The True Story Behind the Movie The Angel

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Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Angel

The film The Angel, Netflix’s latest thriller about a real-life Egyptian man who spied for Israel in the 1970s, revisits a turbulent time in Middle Eastern history.

In 1973, Egyptian and Syrian forces launched an attack on Israel on the holy day of Yom Kippur, setting off what would turn into a weeks-long war. Though most of Israel was caught off guard by the attack, its intelligence agency, Mossad, had in fact received a tip about what was to come. That tip came from Ashraf Marwan, a well-connected Egyptian national: Marwan’s father-in-law was Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Marwan went on to serve as an aide to President Anwar Sadat following Nasser’s death in 1970. Through access to his country’s top officials, Marwan had access to sensitive information — which he provided to Israel for several years, earning the code name “Angel.”

Based on Uri Bar-Joseph’s book The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, the film, which comes to Netflix on Sept. 14, questions what would motivate a man like Marwan (played by Dutch actor Marwan Kenzari) to betray his country. The Angel posits that Marwan, who in real life died mysteriously, after falling off a London balcony in 2007, would do anything to secure peace; other accounts suggest the spy was a double agent who sought more power and money.

Here’s what’s real — and what’s fictional or unclear — in the movie.

Fact: Marwan first reached out to Israeli officials from a London telephone booth
Guiliano Beckor

In the film, Marwan sneaks off to a London telephone booth to call the Israeli embassy to offer himself up as a spy for Mossad. He gets the idea to do so after first failing to convince Nasser, who was still alive at the time, not to go to war with Israel. Marwan’s determination grows after he finds out that Nasser told his wife, Mona, to divorce him. (Nasser had begged his daughter to divorce Marwan after getting wind of his son-in-law’s penchant for gambling).

The phone call scene in the film plays out pretty much the way Bar-Joseph details in his book. He writes:

Ashraf Marwan began his path to the Israeli Mossad in one of those iconic red phone booths that used to mark London … Finding the address and phone number of the embassy did not require high-level espionage skills. They were in the phone book. When the switchboard operator answered, Marwan asked to speak with someone from the Mukhabarat—the intelligence agency. The operator may not have known Marwan’s world. But she did know the protocol. This wasn’t the first time she had fielded a phone call from someone with an Arab accent asking to speak with the embassy’s intelligence officer or a defense official. The procedures were clear. She transferred the call to the office of the Israeli Defense Forces military attaché.

Fact: Marwan’s first two tips to Mossad didn’t pan out

As The Angel shows, Marwan twice told Israeli intelligence …read more

Source:: Time – Entertainment

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