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News :: International
Egyptian who tipped off Tel Aviv dies
01 Jul 2007
AN Egyptian billionaire businessman identified as the Mossad agent who tipped Israel off on the eve of the 1973 Yom Kippur War about the coming attack was found dead yesterday outside his home in London in suspicious circumstances.
Abraham Rabinovich, Jerusalem
June 29, 2007

AN Egyptian billionaire businessman identified as the Mossad agent who tipped Israel off on the eve of the 1973 Yom Kippur War about the coming attack was found dead yesterday outside his home in London in suspicious circumstances.
Police said Ashraf Marwan, the son-in-law of the late Egyptian president Gamel Abdel Nasser, had fallen from the fourth-floor balcony of his home overlooking St James's Park.

Police were treating his death as suspicious. Friends of Dr Marwan said he had feared assassination after being named four years ago as an Israeli agent during the Yom Kippur war.

Dr Marwan's link to the Mossad was publicly revealed four years ago by Israeli researchers and confirmed this month in a Tel Aviv judicial proceeding in which the head of Israeli military intelligence in 1973, now retired Major General Eli Zeira, was found to have leaked Dr Marwan's identity to journalists and others.

His death will send shockwaves across the Middle East and among some of Britain's wealthiest people. His associates included arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, chairman of Leeds football club Ken Bates, and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

If found to be murder, his death will carry echoes of last year's assassination of Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB agent.

Dr Marwan's access to wealth and power stemmed from his marriage to the favourite daughter of Nasser, who made him a roving ambassador.

Dr Marwan began dabbling on his own in arms deals. In 1969, he entered the Israeli embassy in London and offered his services as an agent.

Despite deep initial scepticism about his motives and fears that he was a double agent, the Mossad soon found him to be supplying priceless political and military information from the heart of the Egyptian establishment, some of which could be confirmed from other sources.

Although he demanded and received large payments, Israeli officials believed his motivation lay more in the psychological realm than greed.

Two days before the October 1973 Yom Kippur War, Dr Marwan, in Cairo, telephoned his Mossad handler in London and let drop a code word for imminent war. He asked to meet with the then Mossad head, Zvi Zamir.

Mr Zamir flew to London and met Dr Marwan late the next night, Yom Kippur eve.

Dr Marwan revealed that the Egyptian and Syrian armies would attack the next day.

The warning, passed on by Mr Zamir, reached Israel in the pre-dawn hours.

This would prove sufficient for the first reservist tank units to reach the Golan Heights just as Syrian divisions were breaking through the thin defences.

In desperate battles, the Israelis stopped the Syrian army and then pushed it back.

Dr Marwan subsequently became a high-flying businessman based in London and engaged in often mysterious international dealings.

Despite the allegations in recent years about his Mossad connection, he continued to visit Egypt, where he was a prominent figure in society and business.

Former military intelligence chief Major General Zeira claimed in a book published a decade ago that the Yom Kippur informant had been a double agent who also worked for Egypt and fed Israel disinformation. Retired Mossad chief Mr Zamir attacked him for leaking the identity and Major General Zeira sued him for libel.

In the proceedings, Dr Marwan's identity as a Mossad agent was confirmed.

The judge, Thomas Or, found Major General Zeira had leaked the agent's identity, violating one of the prime rules of espionage.

Major General Zeira was forced to retire after the war when an inquiry commission placed on him the principle responsibility for Israel having almost been caught by surprise.

Judge Or speculated that Major General Zeira may have been attempting to mitigate his guilt by sharing the blame with the Mossad for allegedly having used a double agent.

Major General Zeira claimed the agent had waited until the last moment before issuing his war warning.

Brief as it was, however, that warning almost certainly saved the Golan Heights for Israel.,20867,21986885-2703,00.html

This work is in the public domain
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