On the afternoon of June 27, 2007, a man plunged to his death from the fourth-floor balcony of an upscale London apartment building. The dead man was quickly identified as Ashraf Marwan, the son-in-law of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser who had been revealed in 2002 as Israel’s most senior spy in the upper echelons of Egypt’s government. Whether he fell or was pushed has never been definitively established.
On the very day of his death, Marwan, 63, had been scheduled to meet with Dr. Ahron Bregman, the Israeli academic and journalist who had exposed him. In a 2002 interview with the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, Bregman had identified Marwan as the long-rumored Egyptian agent, “Angel,” who warned Israel of a looming Egyptian attack on the eve of the Yom Kippur War. In fact, Bregman claimed in the interview, Marwan was a double agent, whose loyalty to Egypt prevailed at the moment of truth in 1973, so that he gave Israel deliberately inaccurate information about Egypt’s war plans.
Now, five years after Marwan’s death, Bregman is consumed by regret over his actions. In a telephone interview with The Times of Israel from London, Bregman describes exposing Marwan as a spy as “a tragic, colossal mistake.” But, he argues that others — members of the Israeli security establishment — should share his guilty conscience and have a great deal to answer for. For it was an Israeli security chief who formally confirmed that Marwan had spied for Israel, and who publicly battled with a rival Israeli security chief over whether Marwan’s loyalties lay primarily with Israel or Egypt. And Marwan met his death days after a leaked Israeli legal document that included his name was published online.