Spycatcher: The King’s war professor who exposed double spy suspect

Ahron Bregman in Lebanon in the 1970s and early 80s

A DOUBLE spy suspect was found mysteriously dying in a rose bush beneath the balcony of his Mayfair apartment in 2007.

His death occurred at around the time he was to meet King’s lecturer Dr Ahron Bregman, who had revealed the identity of the spy years earlier.

This is one of many surreal stories in the career of King’s-legend Dr Ahron Bregman, who bulldozed dead bodies in Lebanon and exposed Israel’s wiretapping of Bill Clinton.

Dr Bregman tells Roar about surviving blood-splattered ambushes in the IDF, and his regret when friend and spy Ashraf Marwan died on the day they planned to meet at King’s.

Outing a spy

“In my book Israel’s Wars I reveal the identity of the most important Mossad spy who ever operated in the Middle East – he was the son in law of President Nasser of Egypt and his name was Ashraf Marwan.

“My relationship with Marwan was strange, to say the least. I unmasked him as a spy, later became his friend, and he also made me an adviser on his memoirs (which disappeared on the day he died)

“So people expect me to know why and how he died. And quite frankly – I don’t really know.

“We were supposed to meet near King’s on the day he died. But around the time we were due to meet his body was found in a small rose garden under his balcony, not far from here.

“He was still alive when the medics reached him, he uttered a few words, but he then died. We were supposed to discuss a report which was written about him in Israel.

“I had the report in my bag and the idea was that I would translate some parts of it to him.”

Asked how he reacted to the death, he said: “I was very shocked. As if I was hit in the stomach.”

“After his death, detectives of the Metropolitan Police would march into my office here to ask questions and see if I could help solving the mystery.

“For three years they investigated this case and in the end, I think it was in 2010, a coroner ruled that he can’t determine whether Marwan was pushed off his balcony or jumped. A mystery.”

Asked if he regretted outing the spy, Dr Bregman replied: “Yes I do. It was a huge scoop to reveal the identity of such a spy. But it was also a great mistake. Never unmask living spies as you could kill them!”

Having uncovered huge mysteries and spy stories in his lifetime, Dr Bregman told us of how he managed to break such stories.

“My philosophy is that if there’s a great secret then someone in the world – for all sort of reasons – will want to tell you about it; so I take it from there.”

Life in the IDF

As a young officer Dr Bregman took part in Operation Litani and later the siege of Beirut, experiencing shocking and morbid events.

“It was a most scary and exciting times and there are many memorable experiences. I will never forget my first mission which was to bury dead Syrian soldiers.

“Their bodies were all over the hill overlooking our little base.The smell was unbearable. Bloated. Millions of flies covering them. So I brought in a bulldozer and we moved from body to body covering them.

“I sketched a little map, with such instructions as ‘ten steps north of a tree a body is buried’ and so on. I’m sure this little sketch is filed somewhere.

“The second unforgettable experience driving down from Alei we were ambushed. The military car, just in front of me, was hit by an RPG.

“It was a beautiful night, a full moon, and the terrifying moment is still clear in my mind. We returned fire, evacuated the injured, rescued the car and returned to Alei.

“My fingers were sticky, covered with the blood of the injured soldiers. I was so happy to be alive. A great feeling.”

 

This article was taken from the Roar’s February 2015 print edition.

 

 

On quitting IDF: “Refusal to serve is difficult”

IN 1987 the Palestinian occupied territories began an uprising against Israeli occupation that would last until 1993. As a Major in the IDF, Bregman refused to serve, declaring that he would never return to Israel.

Speaking to Roar he said: “The brutal way the Israeli army reacted to the uprising shocked me to the core. I declared that I would refuse to serve in the occupied territories.”

In a blog post he wrote: “In Jerusalem when I bumped into a journalist friend of mine, he raised an eyebrow and asked: ‘Well, what are you doing here?’ I had no answer.

But I did say that should I be called up by the army for a tour of duty in the occupied territories, I would flatly refuse. He printed the exchange a week or so later under the headline ‘Ronnie Bregman refuses for the first time.’

“To save myself from the unpleasant prospect of being sent to prison for refusing to serve, I packed up my bags and emigrated to England, where I still live.”

He told us: “Refusal to serve is difficult; you turn your back on your own people, your family, your society. My friends and family hated it.”

“My fellow Israelis are intelligent and smart, but they’re also brutal occupiers,” he added.

 

Biography: Dr Ashraf Marwan

(b. 1944)
1966 Married Egyptian president’s daughter. Became head of Egypt’s state-owned arms manufacturer.
1969 Handed secret Egyptian files to a London doc with Mossad ties. Met with Mossad three days later at Harrods.
1970’s Info minister for president Sadat.
April 1973 Told Israel of an impending Egyptian invasion – no invasion occurred.
October 1973 Warned Israel of an impending next-day invasion at 4pm. Egypt invaded the following day at 2pm.
1981 Moved to one of the most expensive streets in London. He became a billionaire through stock market trading.
2002 Denied Bregman’s double agent claim.
2007 Found in his dying breaths at the bottom of his Mayfair flat. One witness claimed that they saw two Mediterranean-looking men in suits on Marwan’s balcony after the death. Another ‘heard’ Marwan scream. Marwan had confessed his fears of being assassinated 10 days before his death.

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