Remembering ‘Rafaat Al Haggan’: A Tale of A Citizen Turned Famous Spy

Today, January 30th, marks the death of Egypt’s most famous secret spy, known as ‘Rafaat Al Haggan,’ on whom the Egyptian Writer Saleh Morsi wrote a biography that was then transformed into one of Egypt’s most successful TV shows.

His real name was Refaat Ali Suleiman Al-Gammal. While he led a troubling life, it was only after his death that his identity as a spy was revealed.

Here’s a quick overview of the life of one of Egypt’s most remembered men.

Early Years

Born in 1927 and died in 1982, Al-Gammal, as a student, is said to be dismissive of school and was more inclined toward cinema and theatre. Interestingly, he managed to star in some Egyptian films like ‘Ahebbak Inta’ in 1949 when he got older.

He left Egypt to visit Napoli and Marisela, among other cities, using a fake passport, which got him in trouble and was the reason for his deportation back to Egypt. When Al-Gammal was on trial for this, the judge saw beyond his misconduct. It’s probably Al-Gammal’s cunningness and cleverness that changed the course of his life, making him Egypt’s renowned spy in Israel.

17 Years Living With The Enemy

Al-Gammal received training in Egypt and mingled with Jewish people in Alexandria before relocating to Israel, where he established a tourism company. Over the years, he got himself a place among the elite community of Tel Aviv, where he lived for 17 years in the period between 1955 and the early 1970s.

Although Al-Gammal was an asset to Egyptian intelligence, Israeli-based newspapers, the last of which was Haaretz, have alleged that he was a double agent working for the Mossad.

Al Arabiya spoke to a retired Egyptian General Mohamed Rashad, who refuted such allegations and called them Israeli propaganda. He further said that the secret information received from Al-Gammal was crucial to several missions, including the 1967 Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War, by providing Egypt with detailed engineering data about the Bar Lev Line.

Via Al Arabiya

Death and Fame Came Hand In Hand

El-Gammal, who was known in Israel as ‘Jack Bitton,’ kept his identity a secret until his death. His will read a confession of his identity and ended in prayer and victory for Egypt.

Although a big part of his identity and life remain unknown, in 1988, Yehia El-Alami directed the Rafaat Al-Haggan TV series starring Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, which has done its part to mark his name into the memory of Arabs across the world.

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