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Story of Mossad’s ties with high-ranking Nazi to become TV show

Doug Liman to direct limited series about enlistment of Otto Skorzeny to help sabotage Egyptian missile program, which will be based on chapter in Israeli journalist’s book

Otto Skorzeny, Austrian-born German SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) in the Waffen-SS in World War II. (WikiCommons)
Otto Skorzeny, Austrian-born German SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) in the Waffen-SS in World War II. (WikiCommons)

American filmmaker Doug Liman has signed on to direct a limited-run television series based on a nonfiction book by an award-winning Israeli journalist that, in part, details the history of targeted killings by the Mossad spy agency.

As described in Ronen Bergman’s “Rise and Kill First,” the series will track the Mossad spy agency’s partnership with former Nazi Waffen SS lieutenant colonel Otto Skorzeny, which was formed to sabotage the plan of Egyptian ruler Gamal Abdel Nasser to hire ex-Nazi scientists to develop a missile program that could pose an existential threat to Israel.

“This is the ultimate spy story, replete with the original James Bond, a nascent Mossad and Israel facing its extinction,” Liman told Variety.

Liman, who is Jewish, directed such popular movies as “Bourne Identity,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “Edge of Tomorrow.”

He will work alongside New York-based production company Story Syndicate, headed by Dan Cogan and Liz Garbus, which produced the acclaimed “Britney vs Spears”; and Israeli production company Abot Hameiri, headed by Guy Hameiri and Eitan Abot, which is behind the Israeli series “Shtisel.”

“It is an extraordinary spy-thriller and character drama, and we’re so excited to partner with Doug and Guy to bring it to life,” Cogan and Garbus said.

Gamal Abdel Nasser, president of Egypt, addresses a huge crowd gathered in Republic Square, Cairo, Feb. 22, 1958, from a balcony of the National Union building, after he was elected the first president of the United Arab Republic (AP Photo)

Hameiri told Variety that he was looking forward to adapting one of the most “controversial and thrilling stories in Israel’s history.”

“It’s incredibly exciting to be working with Doug and Dan who share an irresistible vision for this project and are the perfect creative team to bring this dramatic story to life,” he added.

Read more: How Israel’s leaders use targeted killings to try to ‘stop history’

Skorzeny was a close associate of Adolf Hitler. He led the Gran Sasso raid in September 1943, a successful rescue of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini after the Grand Council of Fascism had imprisoned him.

Skorzeny later earned the nickname “the most dangerous man in Europe.”

In the 1960s, Mossad established its relationship with the former senior Nazi officer after Nasser boasted of his long-range rockets.

“Rise and Kill First” was widely acclaimed upon its release, becoming Economist Book of the Year and the 2018 National Jewish Book Award.

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