Mossad reveals photo of ‘the Angel,’ Egyptian agent who warned of Yom Kippur war

Spy organization also releases transcript of Ashraf Marwan warning then-Mossad chief Zvi Zamir of a ’99 percent’ chance of war breaking out in 1973

The Mossad's Egyptian agent Ashraf Marwan, known as 'the Angel' with his handler in an undated photo released by the Mossad  on September 7, 2023. (State Archives)
The Mossad's Egyptian agent Ashraf Marwan, known as 'the Angel' with his handler in an undated photo released by the Mossad on September 7, 2023. (State Archives)

Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, the Mossad published on Thursday a photo of one of its handlers together with the agent code-named “the Angel,” who gave the spy agency a precise warning that war was about to break out.

The agency also published a transcript of the conversation between then-Mossad chief Zvi Zamir and the agent, later revealed to be Ashraf Marwan, the son-in-law of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser.

The day before the war broke out, Marwan warned Zamir that “there is a 99 percent chance that the war will start tomorrow… it will start simultaneously on both fronts, the Egyptian and the Syrian.”

Marwan told Zamir that the Egyptians planned to launch a massive artillery barrage and “move almost the entire army across the Suez Canal.”

He also told him that the Syrians “planned to capture the Golan Heights.”

The warnings were largely ignored by the political and military leaders, and the attack caught Israel by surprise.

Egyptian spy Ashraf Marwan (photo credit: Raafat/Wikimedia Commons)
Egyptian spy Ashraf Marwan (photo credit: Raafat/Wikimedia Commons)

The Mossad also announced on Thursday that a book will be published in honor of the organization’s role in the Yom Kippur War, detailing how the Mossad uncovered much of Egypt’s plan for a surprise attack ahead of the war.

The name of the book, as yet unrevealed, will be taken from a sentence said by wartime Prime Minister Golda Meir to Zamir: “When the time comes to tell what you did, you and your friends will get a prize.”

In a speech on Thursday, Mossad chief David Barnea denied widespread reports that Marwan was a double agent.

“These claims were intensively checked before the war by a joint IDF-Mossad team and again after the war,” Barnea said.

Mossad chief David Barnea (R) speaks with Dani Zamir, the son of Mossad director Zvi Zamir at a ceremony to mark 50 years since the Yom Kippur War at the Mossad headquarters, September 9, 2023. (Courtesy/PMO)

“Findings repeated themselves, the ‘Angel’ was an important and strategic agent. Those who don’t understand HUMINT have a hard time understanding the nuances of an agent and his handler,” he added, referring to the gathering of human intelligence.

On June 27, 2007, Marwan plunged to his death from the fourth-floor balcony of an upscale London apartment building. Whether he fell or was pushed has never been definitively established.

Egyptian authorities arranged a grand funeral and Marwan was hailed as a hero.

In 2019, the founder of an Egyptian publishing house, Khaled Lotfi, was sentenced to five years in prison for distributing a novel about Marwan on the grounds that the book revealed Egyptian military secrets.

In 2018, the film “The Angel” was released by Netflix, spotlighting Marwan’s role in the war.

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