The untold story of a war hero: Ashraf Marwan, the Egyptian spy who saved Israel.
The movie “The Angel,” directed by Israeli filmmaker Ariel Vroman and based on the bestselling book by Israeli professor Uri Bar-Joseph, goes deep into the mysterious story of espionage and courage that many of us know nothing about.
Marwan was born to a respected family in Egypt in the year 1944 and grew up to marry the daughter of then Egyptian president Gamal Nasser. He held high positions in the Presidential Office of Egypt and continued to be the right-hand man to Anwar Sadat, Nasser’s successor.
Throughout his time in office, Marwan saw the Middle Eastern reality differently than the traditional, old-time outlook, and though no one truly knows what ultimately led him to spy, he approached the Israeli Mossad with vital information. Marwan became Israel’s main source of information regarding Egypt’s plan to wage war with Libya’s help, and regain the land in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, which they had lost in the Six-Day War in 1967.
Ashraf became known as “The Angel” among the Israeli Mossad, however, the process of gaining mutual trust wasn’t such a smooth process. Compared to ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’, Marwan signaled the false alert of imminent war multiple times, and so when war finally came knocking, the Mossad struggled to believe him. Thankfully, “The Angel” did his job well, and convinced Israel of an attack that was to happen on Yom Kippur, 1973- on Israel’s holiest day of the year.
Israel was able to round up its troops and prepare as quickly as possible in response to the surprise attack from Egypt. Ultimately, after a huge comeback on Israel’s front, a ceasefire was reached between the countries, with many horrendous casualties on both sides. Six years later, Egypt and Israel reached a peace treaty, which has been upheld for over 40 years today. Marwan believed in peace, and his hand in the war allowed for peace to eventually settle in. As a result, he is actually seen as a hero both in Israel and Egypt!
Had it not been for the heroism, courage, and determination of our ‘Angel’, Israel may not be where it is today.
Although the movie takes its own liberties for the sake of embellishment and captivating drama, the message is clear: Ashraf Marwan was truly Israel’s Yom Kippur angel.