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Foreign Policy Analysis
The Spy Who Almost Became Prime Minister Of The Country He Was Spying On

The Spy Who Almost Became Prime Minister Of The Country He Was Spying On


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all your online accounts secure! A man hunches over a radio; he speaks softly,
but clearly and urgently. He’s provided vital information to his handlers
as he had done many times before, but this time he is exhausted. He is tired of the intrigue. He wants to go home to his wife and children. Thank God this is his last mission…. then
his heart stutters as the door to his apartment bursts open and the room swarms with Syrian
secret police. They beat him and drag him away. This is how Mossad agent Eli Cohen’s successful
career as an Israeli spy came to an abrupt end. On December 26, 1924 Eliyahu Ben-Shaul Cohen,
commonly known Eli Cohen, was born in Alexandria, Egypt, into a large, devout Syrian Jewish
immigrant family. Young Eli received his primary education at
a local Jewish community school. He had an aptitude for languages and learned
Hebrew, Arabic, English, and French. In January of 1947, 22 year old Eli tried
to enlist in the Egyptian Army as an alternative to paying the prescribed sum all young Jews
were obliged to pay, but the authorities were suspicious and he was declared ineligible
on grounds of questionable loyalty. Eli then studied electrical engineering at
the University of Alexandria. During his time there, he was heavily involved
in student protests against Egypt’s occupation by the British. Eventually, he had to drop out of school due
to harrassment from the Muslim Brootherhood and continue his studies at home. This gave Eli more time to involve himself
in clandestine Zionist activites. When Israel declared independence in 1948,
Eli’s family moved to the newly established country. Eli stayed behind in Egypt to complete his
studies and also to continue his risky activist work with Jewish and Zionist underground groups. Eli took part in various Israeli covert operations
in Egypt during the early 1950s, including Operation Goshen, or helping to smuggle Jews
out of Egypt and repatriate them to Israel. It’s thought that Eli was also involved
in the 1954 Lavon Affair, an Israeli military intelligence conspiracy which planted bombs
to stage false flag attacks on Egyptian, American and British civilian targets and blame it
on radicals to convince Britain to continue its occupation of the Suez Canal zone. In 1954, Eli was arrested by the Egyptian
police and charged with being involved in a terrorist cell. However, due to lack of evidence, the authorities
couldn’t make the charges stick and Eli managed to escape punishment. After the Suez Crisis in October of 1956,
Eli was deported to Israel along with thousands of other Egyptian Jews. Eli arrived in Israel on February 8, 1957. He was recruited by the Israel Defense Forces
and became a counterintelligence analyst. Eli attempted to join the Mossad, but was
initially rejected. In 1959, he married Nadia Majald, an Iraqi-Jewish
immigrant. They had three children, Sophie, Irit and
Shai. In 1960, the Mossad recruited Eli when looking
for a special agent to infiltrate the Syrian government. Eli underwent a several month-long intensive
training course at the Mossad instruction school. He learned basic spy skills, including high-speed
evasive driving techniques, weapons proficiency, cartography, sabotage, photography and film
development, encryption and, most importantly, radio transmissions and cryptography. Probably the most difficult thing for Eli
to master was the phonetic sound of Syrian Arabic; prior to his intelligence training,
he spoke Arabic with an Egyptian accent. Throughout his training, instructors noted
Eli’s charisma, amazing memory and ability to memorize intricate details. Eli was then given the false identity of ‘Kamel
Amin Thaabet’, a Syrian businessman who was returning to Syria after living abroad in
Argentina. To establish his backstory, Eli moved to Argentina
in 1961. Within a few months, Eli had picked up Spanish
and grown familiar with the capital Buenos Aires. Per his mission to infiltrate the Arab diaspora,
Eli got himself invited to various social engagements hosted by the community. He earned a reputation as lavish spender and
quickly insinuated into himself into Argentinian Syrian elite society. Eli spent time in cafes surreptitiously listening
to political gossip. He also held wild parties at his home for
high-placed Syrian ministers and businessmen. At these parties intoxicated officials would
talk freely of their work and army plans. Eli would feign drunkenness, but remain sober
and listen carefully. The consummate host, Eli also loaned money
to his government officials ‘friends’ and gave advice. Eli was able to gain access to receptions
hosted by the Syrian Embassy and eventually met General Amin Hafiz, Syria’s military attaché
to Argentina. Eli widely proclaimed that he would like to
return to Syria to support the development of his home country. To prepare for his ‘homecoming’, Eli secretly
traveled to Israel via Zurich, meeting up with his family and studying up on Syria. His father had recently died and he was able
to mourn his death with his family. With help from an associate, Eli went to the
Syrian border via Lebanon, where he bribed a border guard and entered the country. In 1962, Eli settled in the Syrian capital
of Damascus. He used his contacts gained in Argentina to
mingle in the upper echelons of Syrian society. Eli or Kamel Amin Thaabet as he was known,
enjoyed a friendship with General Hafiz, who had become the Syrian president during a coup
in 1963. It is often said that Eli stood a chance of
becoming Syria’s deputy defense minister, and that he was even considered for the position
of Prime Minister. However this story is denied by Syrian political
experts. They feel it’s a rumor spread by Israeli
intelligence to create the image of an omnipotent organization able to manipulate political
or military situations worldwide. In later years, General Hafiz also denied
a close relationship with Kamel/Eli. Whether or not Eli could have become Prime
Minister, he was able to infiltrate into the highest circles of Syrian politics. With those in his social circle speaking freely
around him and his intelligence gathering, Eli was able to transmit by radio or send
to by secret letter to Tel Aviv invaluable and extensive details about the political,
economic and military situation in Syria over a four year period from 1961 to 1965. Eli even secretly traveled to Israel three
times. Especially beneficial to Israel was the information
Eli obtained about Syria’s military cooperation with Iraq and secret deals about Soviet arms
supplied to Syrian troops. Eli also uncovered Syria’s plans to divert
the flow of the Jordan River to deprive Israel of a main source of freshwater. However Eli’s most famous achievement was
touring the Golan Heights and collecting intelligence on the Syrian artillery and military fortifications. He actually managed to shoot photos of the
security and defense preparations with a tiny secret camera produced by Israeli and U.S.
intelligence. Pretending sympathy for the soldiers exposed
to the sun, Eli suggested that trees be planted at every position as cover. The trees were then used as bombing targets
by the Israeli military during the Six-Day War. Eli’s information enabled Israel to nimbly
win skirmishes. As a result, the Six-Day war ended with Israel’s
occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the entire Sinai Peninsula. In 1964, Eli was able to provide the Mossad
with detailed intel about Syrian defense plans at Quneitra City located in the occupied Golan
Heights. By now, Syrian intelligence was very aware
that they had a high level mole in their ranks. Newly appointed Syrian Intelligence commander
Colonel Ahmed Su’edani was suspicious of everyone and disliked Eli. While on his final secret visit to Israel
in November 1964 to provide intelligence and witness the birth of his third child, Eli
expressed fear of discovery to his handlers. He wished to terminate his spying assignment
in Syria. The Mossad convinced Eli to return to Syria
one final time. Before leaving, Eli assured his wife that
this was the last mission before he returned to Israel permanently. Meanwhile, Syrian intelligence was focused
on finding the spy. Using Soviet tracking equipment and assisted
by hired Soviet experts, the Syrians promoted a period of radio silence. Large amounts of illegal radio transmissions
were detected and traced to their source. On January 24, 1965 Syrian security services
raided Eli’s apartment, catching him red handed in the middle of transmitting to Israel. While the true events are shrouded in secrecy
and perhaps even lost to history, there are several reasons Eli was caught. Some authorities at the Mossad claimed that
over time Eli became careless with his transmissions; sometimes choosing to transmit multiple times
a day and often at the same time each day, etc. making it easy for police to track him
down. Egyptian intelligence claimed that they identified
Eli as an Israeli spy after noticing him in a photo of a personnel meeting between Syrian
and Egyptian general staff taken in the Golan Heights. Also, in the early 1960s, Syrian counterintelligence
began tracking two Syrians believed to be working for the CIA. During months of observation, it was noted
that both suspects were frequent guests at Eli’s apartment. These spies were detained in late 1964, after
which Eli came under surveillance. Lastly, there is some evidence that Eli believed
that a friend betrayed him for a cash payment. Eli was detained by Syrian authorities, then
imprisoned and tortured while being interrogated. A military tribunal quickly found him guilty
of espionage and sentenced him to death under martial law. Israel staged a campaign for clemency, urging
the international community to protest and hopefully persuade the Syrian government to
commute the death sentence. Diplomats, to include representatives of the
governments of France, Belgium and Canada and even Pope Paul VI tried to intercede,
but to no avail. On May 15, 1965, Eli wrote a final letter
to his wife saying “…I am begging you my dear Nadia not to spend your time in weeping
about something already passed. Concentrate on yourself, looking forward for
a better future!” Eli was publically hung before a crowd of
thousands on May 18, 1965 in Marjeh Square in Damascus. The execution was shown live on TV and Eli’s
body was left to hang for six hours. In Israel, Eli Cohen is considered a national
hero and the most successful spy in the country’s history. His priceless intel saved soldiers’ lives
and helped Israeli war efforts. Several streets and neighborhoods have been
named for him. Since his death, members of Eli’s family
have campaigned for Syria to return his remains. Over fifty years on, the Syrians have refused
to return Eli’s body home to Israel. Some see it as a final snub from a still bitter
Syrian government, while others claim the request has been denied because the Syrian
government doesn’t actually know Eli’s whereabouts anymore. Due to the initial publicity, his body was
moved and reburied several times. Today, a memorial stone stands in Eli Cohen’s
honor in the Garden of the Missing Soldiers in Mount Herzl, Jerusalem. Do you have some covert operations of your
own that you’re planning? Or maybe you’re just not into the idea of
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10% off a premium subscription today! Do you think you would make a good spy? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video
Who Were the Most Successful Spies of All Time! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!”

100 comments on “The Spy Who Almost Became Prime Minister Of The Country He Was Spying On

  1. Reminds me of playing pool or darts… When you try to lose the game but it just keeps getting in… 😂

  2. After watching 'The Spy' on Nextflix and reading up on the case I am pretty sure he was requested to be deputy Minister of Defense and NOT Prime Minister. Secondly he was using morse code for his transmissions.

  3. Fun fact: Multiple Iraqi Intelligence Agents warned Syria about him but they didn’t arrest him. Iraq Intelligence even had pictures and boarding tickets of him coming from Israel

  4. Please uncover Adam Malik CIA that working in Indonesia and slaughter lots of high rank military officers and choose Soeharto as president that controlled by US

  5. He was a second class citizen in Israel and was forced to do this to not be jobless. Also every Intel he gathered was useless since he was exposed and hanged two years before the war happened.

  6. Poor guy. He really is a hero. Syria was (is?) in a sick state to publicly hang people and show it on TV. Excellent diplomatic skills Syria. Muslims being composed and merciful as always (sorry)

  7. You got even the title incorrect… And many other things… But such shoddy research is expected from this channel

  8. his great intel…..aided a non ending war due to the occupation of palestinian and syrian land… great contribution to humanity.

  9. 2:12 I’m Arabic and seeing those Arabic words not connected is really bothering me, Please Use google translator next time.

  10. Israel isn’t an occupying force in the Gaza or Palestine, they are a people returning home. Islam is the occupying force

  11. Why do you use a graphic of a hassidic rabbi for "Mossad", last I checked Mossad never has had one in their ranks…ever.

  12. George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States, was the head of the CIA (the chief of spies) before he became President.

  13. Are the Orthodox Jewish cartoons are the best thing you found to describe the "Musad's" people? I understand that you wanted them to look like Israelies but this is streotypical and offensive.

  14. Google makes it easier, to identify a Eli in your own country, I found two, give it a try, see how many you can find.

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