Cohen’s watch back home
Israeli spy Eli Cohen, whose Omar Sherif good looks and smooth attitude allowed him to penetrate the Syrian defense ministry and highest levels of politics like the stuff of a Bond film under the cover identity of Kamal Amin Taabet, was caught in mid-transmission by the Syrians in 1964 after a KGB HF/DF team tracked his radio down.
His life ended in a public execution in Damascus and his body was reportedly buried three different times over the years to keep the Israelis from finding it.
However, in what was described by the BBC as a secret operation by the Mossad, his wristwatch has been recovered.
The watch, which was with Cohen until his death, surfaced in Syria several months and was put up for sale by whoever stumbled across it. In a twist of fate, Russian assets reportedly help locate it.
Cohen operated behind enemy lines – establishing close ties with the top Syrian political and military leadership – from 1962 until he was hanged almost exactly 43 years ago on May 18, 1965. Cohen, who was known in intelligence circles by the number 566, wrote in encrypted French and sent his messages via a tiny radio transmitter. Cohen’s transmissions were instrumental in helping the IDF prepare for the 1967 war with Syria. He provided information about the Syrian Air Force and military positions on the Golan.
It went far beyond that. His apartment was the crossroads for the Who’s Who of Damascus, which he encouraged, and then dutifully took note. This evolved into field trips to highly secure locations throughout the country, blessed by the Syrian brass. Cohen somehow managed to make it back home three times from Syria, on each occasion bringing photographs and sketches of Syrian positions– strategic gold.
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