This documentary is important since it tells us the story of probably the greatest spy intrigue of the XX century, since Ashraf Marwan influenced the outcome of the last and some would say the most important of the Arab-Israeli wars - the October war of 1973 with both superpowers of the time (the USA and the USSR) standing with their full military potential behind the warring sides.
As in any documentary, there is no fiction here, it is a 100% real-life story. And you expect it to be an investigation into the mysterious death of A.Marwan nearly 34 (!) years after the war was over and 5 years after Ahron Bregman (a British-Israeli historian) exposes him as an Israeli spy. But the film actually is a story about how Bergman unveiled Marwan.
Unfortunately the Egyptian side did not respond to the filmmakers' invitation to comment on the issue on the official level (only an expert aired Egyptian view that Marwan served his country well). So we have to deal only with comments of several retired Israeli intelligence officers including former Mossad Director, but all of them left their posts about 10 years prior to the murder (or suicide?) of Marwan, so they were not the decision-makers even if Marwan was killed by Israelis (which, Egyptians believe, is the case). The Israelis (with one exception) consider Marwan a devoted Mossad agent and accuse the Egyptians, qualifying his murder as a reprisal for high treason. Marwan's widow (the daughter of Nasser) suspects Mossad.
So, summing up, after watching this intriguing film I felt embarrassed and amused by both sides (Israeli and Arab) being equally grateful to the late spy for his service, which turns this really detective story into a tragicomedy.
With all the initial information (basic data and comments given in the film) available for interpretation, you can start your own investigation into this shadowy case. It is a separate question if you can believe (and to what extent) those comments and trust people trained to hide the truth and to deceive. We are at crossroads here and are lured by the filmmaker into solving a riddle that resembles "I know that you know that I know" logical puzzle.
Well, here is my take on the issue:
1) From the Israeli point of view, Marwan provided them with first-class, top secret information. Could he do that? Definitely yes. All sorts of Arab-Soviet arms talks, inter-Arab negotiations, etc., were delivered in full detail. The supply of sensitive information began from late 1970 (according to the film, Marwan's first contact with the Israelis took place 2 months after Nasser's death, which means at the end of November 1970). His only and crucial inaccuracy was that he warned about the offensive at sunset while it happened 4 hours earlier. Were those 4 hours so important if you had 24 hours early warning? Even if Israelis saw this as a serious dis - (or - mis-) information, did Marwan deserve to be killed? I seriously doubt it.
2) In Egypt at about the same time (from 1971 and on) the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat began using every opportunity to threaten Israel with a new war, mainly as a pure propaganda for domestic consumption, but also as a tool to build immunity among Israeli decision-makers against these regular threats (remember a tale about a boy shouting "Wolves!"?). So, if we accept Egyptian insisting on Marwan being a devoted patriot, this assumption goes well in hand with provision of genuine data to the enemy, so that Israelis would completely trust Marwan and rely on him. So could Marwan have been murdered for this by Egypt? I don't think so. He was likely to receive orders directly from President Sadat and both of them were involved in a multi-vector deception operation.
3) If we exclude both Israel and Egypt as likely murderers, then who is to blame? There is a number of sides who think they have unpaid bills. First of all we should keep in mind that if Marwan was a key player in this deception plot masterminded by Sadat, the latter, despite being a triumphant winner of the 1973 war, was killed as a traitor in 1981 by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (I wonder if jihad can be non-Islamic?) for making peace with Israel. Then Marwan deserved capital punishment for being a squared traitor: Sadat betrayed his country (according to the Jihad) AFTER the war, while Marwan betrayed it long before and after the war. I'm not pointing definitely to Jihad, but ANY Islamist group can easily be responsible for this.
4) Then come the Syrians who were also deceived by Sadat, since the initial distribution of roles was: for the Syrians - to recapture the Golan Heights, while Egypt was supposed to reach the Sinai mountain passes (30-40 kilometers to the East from the Canal), which he could never achieve, the real goal was to push the Israelis back 10-15 kilometers to the East from the Canal and to dig in the sand.
5) Finally there are Palestinians (of various factions) who never were too distant from all sorts of political assassinations all over the Middle East for the last 5 decades.
6) Finally, I don't believe it was a murder at all for 2 reasons:
- the timing. Marwan died at about 1 p.m. which is not the right time if you want to throw a man out of the balcony without attracting much attention.
- the way of murder. Throwing people out of the windows (defenestration) is somewhat old-fashioned today. Killing with a silenced gun is much more popular.
- Marwan was talking to somebody before his death and was not especially excited, he asked Bregman to call him later when Bregman phoned to him (if Bregman is to be trusted at all).
The fatal dispute must have been about his memoires - there could be something interesting in them, but hardly sensational: all sensations had already been made public by Bregman.
The film would have surely benefited from interviews with the British secret services that must know a lot about the case. They definitely had Marwan's phone tapped and probably had his house under surveillance. Also, it's hard to believe that there was no CCTV camera or a concierge at the entrance of a billionaire's house 100 meters away from Trafalgar Square?!
Again, the film is highly recommended.