Defenestrations - Egyptian billionaire ...

Joined: Dec 4 2005, 05:55 PM

Jun 28 2007, 08:41 AM #1

Egyptian billionaire ‘who spied for Mossad’ found dead
From The Times June 28, 2007
Rajeev Syal

An Egyptian billionaire financier who feared for his life after being accused of being a Mossad spy was found dead outside his Mayfair flat yesterday in suspicious circumstances.

Ashraf Marwan, the son-in-law of the late President Gamel Abdel Nasser, was found beneath his fourth-floor flat in Carlton House Terrace.

Police were treating his death as suspicious. Friends of Mr Marwan, a former shareholder in Chelsea Football Club, said that he had feared assassination after being named three years ago as an agent during the Yom Kippur war.

Rumours of his death circulated in London’s Arab community last night. Some believe that he may have taken his life after a serious illness was diagnosed.

Mr Marwan’s death will send shockwaves across the Middle East and among some of Britain’s wealthiest people. His associates included Adnan Khashoggi, the arms dealer, Ken Bates, the football club chairman, the Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and the late Tiny Rowland.

If found to be murder, his death will carry echoes of last year’s assassination of Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB agent.

Mr Marwan, 63, was identified as an agent by the Vanity Fairwriter Harold Bloom in his book Eve of Destruction, which detailed his involvement in the Yom Kippur war in 1973. Although Nasser, who humiliated the British Government at Suez, died in 1970, Mr Marwan, his son-in-law, was part of the inner circle of his successor, Anwar Sadat, who started the war.

The identity of the agent, described by a postwar Israeli inquiry commission only as “the source”, had been a closely guarded secret. Evidence pointed towards someone high in the Egyptian Establishment.

From published accounts based on Israeli sources, it was alleged that Mr Marwan was a “walk-in” who entered an Israeli embassy in Europe and offered his services in 1969. Extensive checks convinced Mossad that he was not a double agent.

In the ensuing years Mr Marwan provided information on Egypt and the Arab world that Moshe Dayan, the Israeli Defence Minister, and others would later term priceless.

Some believed that he was a double agent. Mr Marwan denied the claims, saying that he had never worked for the intelligence communities on any side. Mr Bloom acknowledged that he could be assassinated.

Mr Marwan was believed to have been born in Egypt into a wealthy family. He married Nasser’s daughter Muna in the 1960s and they had two sons and a number of grandchildren.

Rumours of how he made his money have circulated within the Arab community for many years. Many say that he was an arms dealer and had been introduced to plenty of contacts by Sadat.

Mr Marwan considered London his main home, according to friends, despite owning property across the world. Standing at 6ft 2in and very thin, he was seen at a social gathering in Central London last week with his wife.

Mr Marwan was a friend of Ken Bates, the former Chelsea chairman, and at one point held a 3 per cent share in Chelsea Village, one of the holding companies of the club. Later he was believed to be the subject of a Financial Services Authority inquiry into the sale of shares to Roman Abramovich, the current owner.

At one point, friends say, Mr Marwan was a close associate of Mohamed Al Fayed, the owner of Harrods and a fellow Egyptian. He was also believed to have owned the Son Vida, one of the best hotels in Majorca.

Last night police kept a tight cordon around Carlton House Terrace, a white Grade I listed building overlooking St James’s Park that stretches between Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards Parade. Friends of the family said that Mr Marwan’s wife was flying back to Britain from Egypt.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said last night: “We were called at around 13.40 to Carlton House Terrace. The death is being treated as suspicious at this stage and the inquiries are under way.”
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Joined: Dec 4 2005, 05:55 PM

Jun 28 2007, 08:59 AM #2

'Double agent' dead in London

A former Egyptian president's son-in-law accused of spying for Israel has reportedly been found dead outside his London home.

Police have not confirmed his identity, but Egyptian state news claimed that the body of 62-year-old Ashraf Marwan was discovered outside his flat.

His father-in-law was the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Mr Marwan was suspected of working as a double agent for Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Police were called to Carlton House Terrace in south west London at 1340 BST on Wednesday.

A spokesman said they were treating the man's death as unexplained.

In a statement, police said: "We await formal identification and for next of kin to be informed.

"It is understood he may have fallen from a balcony, but inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the death continue."

Author's claims

There have been calls for an investigation into Mr Marwan's role in Israel's 1973 war with Egypt and Syria.

Allegations were first made against him in a book published in 2004 by Eli Zeira, who was Israeli chief of military intelligence during the conflict.

Mr Zeira claimed that in 1969 Mr Marwan tried to tip off the Israeli authorities in London about the planned attack, but his warning was ignored.

He later was allegedly recruited by Mossad.

Mr Marwan's name was also linked with claims of illicit weapons trading in the Middle East.

The Egyptian government has refused to comment on the allegations, but the Middle East News Agency reported that Mr Marwan received the highest honour for "achievements" during the 1973 war from former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

Key adviser

Mr Marwan was the son of a military officer in Nasser's presidential guard and joined the army himself after a degree in chemical engineering.

After Nasser's death in 1970, he became a political and security adviser to his successor Sadat.

In the 1970s, Mr Marwan was head of Egypt's government-owned military industry complex before retiring and moving to the UK 25 years ago to work in private business.

He was married with two sons.
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Joined: Nov 25 2005, 11:41 AM

Sep 3 2007, 01:08 PM #3

Ashraf Marwan's shoes
by Andrew

From The Times on the death of Ashraf Marwan:
“Dr Marwan’s body had been stripped but was sent to the mortuary still wearing a pair of shoes. They could have been vital evidence, because Dr Marwan would have had to have stepped on to a ledge or a plant pot to jump, family members said. But he suffered from a severe nerve condition affecting his feet, and could not step into the bath without assistance, they said.

For Dr Marwan to have jumped off the balcony, he would have had to step into a plant pot, and climb over an air-conditioning unit, a source said. If he had done so, material such as soil from the plant pots or paint would have been left on his shoes.”
The London police didn’t secure the shoes. One could be forgiven for wondering if they are trying to end up with an inconclusive result. Meanwhile, there is a witness:
“The new witness is believed to have been inside the Institute of Directors’ building at 116 Pall Mall, which backs on to Dr Marwan’s apartment.

The man, who was on the third floor, has claimed that he saw Dr Marwan fall past the window. He rushed over and looked up to see two men calmly looking down at Dr Marwan’s body from a balcony, a source said.”
They are described as being of ‘Mediterranean appearance’. And there’s more:
“A source close to the investigation has also disclosed that Dr Marwan’s wife, Mona, has told police that her husband warned her three times that he might be murdered. His latest concerns came after an Israeli court ruled in early June that Major-General Eli Zeira, who headed Israeli Military Intelligence during the 1973 war, leaked Dr Marwan’s identity.

The Times disclosed two weeks ago that police have been told that the only known copy of Dr Marwan’s memoirs disappeared from his flat on the day of his death.”
Had the police kept the shoes, the absence of trace evidence of earth matching the earth in the pot would have proved murder. It appears to be in everybody’s interest to have an inconclusive finding of whether he jumped or was thrown.
"The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you." -- Immortal Technique

"The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." -- Malcolm X

"The eternal fight is not many battles fought on one level, but one great battle fought on many different levels." -- The Antagonist

"Truth does not fear investigation." -- Unknown

Joined: Dec 4 2005, 05:55 PM

Sep 21 2007, 06:56 AM #4

A perfect spy?

An ageing billionaire falls to his death in Mayfair. Vital evidence disappears. The latest Le Carré novel? No, a real life Middle Eastern spy thriller.

Khaled Diab
September 19, 2007 1:00 PM

If John le Carré is looking for inspiration for a new novel in this post-cold war world about the hazards, moral ambiguity, intrigue and murkiness of the spy game, he should turn his attention away from Eastern Europe and towards the Middle East - and to Ashraf Marwan, the Egyptian master spy, in particular.

Like many good spy thrillers, the saga begins with a death. On June 27, the 62-year-old Egyptian billionaire fell to his death from the balcony of his luxury fifth-floor apartment overlooking St James's park in London.

At first, the police were treating the fall as "unexplained" but not suspicious. But then the plot thickened, as it emerged that the dead man was no ordinary tycoon but a former spy. Then, vital evidence began to vanish.

In August, the Times learned that the only known copy of Marwan's draft memoirs, which promised to reveal the truth about his role as a spy, had disappeared from his apartment in St James's Park. Three volumes of the book, each about 200 pages, were taken as well as the tapes on to which they had been dictated. A source said that on the day he died, Marwan was due to fly to the US to finalise the last chapter.

The newspaper also revealed that the shoes the dead Marwan was still wearing had wandered off from the mortuary. The footwear could have provided vital forensic clues as to the cause of his fall, his family believe.

Although the fact that he was a spook is pretty certain, the question of which side he was on remains shrouded in mystery. Was Marwan a profiteering spy for Israel who gave away vital information ahead of the 1973 war or a cunning double agent for Egypt who fed the Israelis with misleading disinformation?

Marwan's identity as a spy was revealed by Israeli historian Aharon Bergman - who was due to meet the late billionaire at around the time of his death - and the prominent American journalist and author Howard Blum in his 2003 book The Eve of Destruction: The Untold Story of the Yom Kippur War.

Both men had been tipped off by the disgruntled former head of Israeli military intelligence at the time of the 1973 war, General Eli Zeira, as part of his ongoing conflict with Zvi Zamir, the then head of Mossad, over apportioning blame for the Israeli intelligence failure in the runup to the joint Egyptian-Syrian attack which was accompanied by an Arab oil embargo.

Zeira maintains that Mossad was duped by Marwan's artful feeding of fact mixed with fiction to mislead Israel as to Egypt's intentions to wage war in 1973, while Zamir believes that Marwan was a genuine Mossad agent.

To get to the bottom of the story, we need to flash back to the late 1960s. Marwan was the model Egyptian insider of the clique-based order of the time. A chemist by training, he was the son of an officer in President Gamal Abdel Nasser's presidential guard and married the late president's daughter, Mona. While in the army, he became an adviser to his father-in-law and, after the president's death, advised his successor Anwar Sadat, rising to head Egypt's massive military-industrial complex.

In 1969, he came to London on the pretence of seeking medical care and, according to Blum, he visited a doctor known to be a covert Arab-Israeli go-between. Along with his X-rays, the Egyptian handed the doctor a file crammed with official Egyptian state documents that he wanted delivered to the Israeli embassy in London.

Although Mossad deemed the documents to be genuine, intelligence agencies are suspicious of so-called "walk-ins". "It was decided, however, that this walk-in's credentials were worth the gamble," Blum writes.

Operating under various code names, including "Angel", "Babylon" and "the In-Law", Marwan provided Mossad with so much information that the agency must have felt like it had died and gone to espionage heaven. One agent reportedly described the situation "as if we had someone sleeping in Nasser's bed".

Armed with this information, Mossad developed what became known as "the concept" which assumed that Egypt would not wage war to reclaim the Sinai unless it possessed long-range bombers and was backed up by a genuine coalition of Arab countries.

In April 1973 (some five months before the actual attack), Marwan sent a secret message to his Israeli operatives warning of an imminent attack. Israel immediately tens of thousands of reservists and deployed several brigades in the Sinai. The state of alert lasted three months and cost around $35m (around $130m today).

Given that Israeli society and the economy grinds to a halt at times of major conflict, the second Marwan warning on the eve of the actual war was not heeded by the Israeli cabinet and Egypt managed to score spectacular early successes, turned around only with the aid of massive airlifts from America.

So, was Marwan a cunning double agent for Egypt or was his leaking of information perhaps found out and plans hastily changed in the spring of 1973? Although Zamir maintains that he was working for the Israelis, Zeira, Bergman and Blum, among many others, are not convinced.

"On one occasion, when I asked [Marwan] what kind of book [his memoirs] would be, he said that everyone in Egypt, the whole system, worked to embarrass Israel. I concluded from this that he really was a double agent," the Israeli historian told Haaretz.

The Egyptian establishment seems to concur. President Hosni Mubarak described the billionaire as a "patriotic man who served his country ... although it is not yet the right time to reveal exactly how". Egypt also lavished him with a major state funeral.

That leaves the unanswered question that, if Marwan was indeed murdered, who did it? Could it have been Israeli or Egyptian intelligence fearful of what he might reveal in his memoirs? Could it have been other intelligence organisations, since it is believed by some analysts that Marwan was also a vital link between Egypt and western agencies reassuring them that Egypt's war aims were limited to regaining its territory? Could it have been a business associate in the murky world of the arms trade through which Marwan is reputed to have amassed his enormous fortune?

On July 7, Egypt's al-Masry al-Youm, citing anonymous sources, reported that four key witnesses were waiting to meet Marwan in an office building across the street from where he lived and allegedly witnessed his apparent suicide.

At the end of August, police said they were interviewing a new witness who claimed to have seen men wearing suits and of Mediterranean appearance peering over the balcony at Marwan's body before disappearing inside the flat, the Times reported. Last week, Scotland Yard summoned several Israeli citizens for questioning, Egypt's Al-Ahram Weekly reported.

Police investigations are still ongoing and what they will reveal is anyone's guess. But death by balcony seems to be an increasingly common occurrence for Egyptians with suspected espionage pasts, such as Souad Hosni, the "Cinderella" of the "beautiful age" of Egypt's silver screen, who fell to her death from a London balcony in 2001 in an apparent suicide.
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Joined: Dec 4 2005, 05:55 PM

Jul 19 2008, 11:23 AM #5

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Joined: Dec 4 2005, 05:55 PM

Oct 5 2008, 06:21 AM #6

Yard probes billionaire spy's death
Elite detectives are called in to investigate the fatal Mayfair fall of Egyptian businessman who had links to security services around the world

#  Rajeev Syal, investigations editor
# The Observer,
# Sunday October 5 2008

The mysterious death of an Egyptian billionaire whose body was found below his Mayfair flat just weeks after accusations that he had spied for Mossad is being investigated by a new team of murder detectives following complaints from family members that key evidence had disappeared.

Dr Ashraf Marwan's alleged murder is now being overseen by Scotland Yard's elite Specialist Crime Directorate, after it emerged that shoes worn when he fell five floors to his death could not be found by a previous inquiry team.

The development will only deepen speculation over his death. Israeli commentators claim he was murdered by Egyptian intelligence officers for being the Jewish state's most important agent in the run-up to the Yom Kippur war in 1973. Egyptian commentators claim he was murdered by Mossad as he prepared to expose Israel's secrets in an explosive book.

A police source said that the case has been transferred from detectives in Westminster following fevered international speculation over Marwan's death and the admission that key evidence could not be found. 'It was decided to move this because of the intricate and public nature of the case. We need to be seen to get this right from here on in,' the source said.

A family member claimed that a new set of detectives has taken over the case because of criticism over lost evidence. 'Scotland Yard should have changed their tactics much earlier,' he said.

Dr Marwan, 62, a businessman and son-in-law of former Egyptian president Nasser and a former political and security adviser to President Sadat, died on 27 June, 2007 after falling from his large flat in Carlton House Terrace. He has been described by historians as the 'most infamous spy in the Middle East', who had worked closely with security agencies including MI6, the CIA and the KGB.

His family claim that the only known copy of his nearly finished memoirs - which he had been researching for several years - disappeared from his £4.4m property on the day he died.

One witness has told police that, in the moments after Marwan's death, two men of 'Mediterranean appearance', both wearing suits, were seen peering over a balcony at his body as it lay sprawled in a private garden.

The witness, who asked not to be identified, told The Observer last week: 'I saw two men standing on a balcony. They were doing nothing, just looking down. Their calmness struck me as unusual. A lady was screaming in the garden. People were rushing around trying to help or call. But these two men were just standing there.'

Marwan's death came weeks after Eli Zeira, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, claimed that the billionaire was his key informant in the run-up to the Yom Kippur War.

Family members were highly critical of the police investigation into Marwan's death after it emerged that shoes he had worn on the day he died had disappeared. The shoes were deemed to be crucial because Marwan would have had to step into a plant pot and climb over an air-conditioning unit to have jumped over the metre-high balcony rail. If he had done so, material such as soil from the plant pots or paint would have been left on his shoes. He suffered from a severe nerve condition affecting his feet and could not step into the bath without assistance.

A source close to the investigation has also disclosed that Marwan's wife, Mona, has told police that her husband warned her three times that he might be murdered. Detectives from Belgravia, who are attached to the Specialist Crime Directorate, have recently been to New York to interview other potential witnesses.

Police have not ruled out suicide; Marwan had a history of heart problems. He moved to Britain after Sadat's assassination in 1981.

An inquest was due to be held last month, but was suspended because of ongoing investigations. A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police admitted that the shoes worn on the day of his death had disappeared, but declined to comment on the family's complaints.

'The reason the investigation has been handed over to the Specialist Crime Directorate is because it is a complicated case and followed a review of the file in January,' she said.
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Joined: Dec 4 2005, 05:55 PM

Oct 21 2009, 09:37 PM #7

Code: Select all
British nuclear expert falls 120ft to his death in Vienna

A British nuclear expert has fallen to his death from the 17th floor of the United Nations offices in Vienna.

Published: 6:17PM BST 21 Oct 2009

The 47-year-old man, who has not been named, died after falling more than 120ft to the bottom of a stairwell.

He worked for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, an international agency charged with uncovering illicit nuclear tests.

A UN spokesman in the Austrian capital said there were no "suspicious circumstances" surrounding the man's death, while a police spokesman said that no other person was believed to have been involved.

No suicide note has been found.

The incident happened on Tuesday as the United States, France, Russia and Iran held talks close by aimed at cooling tensions over Tehran's nuclear programme.

Investigators refused to reveal any further background information on the official but confirmed an autopsy will be held.

Four months ago another UN worker also believed to be British fell a similar distance at the same building, according to other staff working there.
He was Timothy Hampton, according to the ES.
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