Is Cairo’s Latest “Israeli Spy Scandal” Linked to

Egypt claimed Tuesday, Nov.28, it had arrested a 34-year old Egyptian engineer and charged an absent Russian accomplice, accusing both of supplying Israel with political, economic and military intelligence prejudicial to Egypt’s national interests. The Egyptian, Sherif Fawzi Mohamed al-Filal, was claimed to have been recruited by the Israeli Mossad while he was in Spain; the whereabouts of his recruiter, “a former military officer called Grigory Jefins”, was said to be unknown. Al-Filal, arrested at his home in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis on September 27, is to be tried before a high state security court and the Russian prosecuted in his absence. Egyptian authorities claim to have found in his homet computers containing sensitive data and sophisticated communications equipment used for contact with the Mossad.
Israel has angrily denied any involvement in the affair. The Russians said they were unaware of the case.
debkafile‘s intelligence experts points out that many countries spy on their neighbors. If Israel runs agents in Egypt, Egypt may be presumed to do the same in Israel. In normal circumstances, the discovery of one such operative raises no dust; it is quietly settled between the governments without public ado. But when a government does raise a public outcry, it is after something other than voicing outrage. To this day, the Israeli public has not been informed whether Azam Azam, who was tried and jailed in Egypt three years ago for espionage, was indeed a spy or simply a businessman who fell victim to diplomatic machinations – or whether the equipment found in his home was supplied by the Mossad or planted by the Egyptians.
Like the Azam incident, so too does the latest “Israeli spy affair” bear troubling features. The “Russian” name of al-Filal’s accomplice, “Jefins”, is not Russian at all, but has a made-up ring, implying a clumsy Egyptian attempt to implicate the many Russian immigrants living in Israel in nefarious activities against an Arab country on behalf of the Mossad.
Most suggestive, in the view of debkafile‘s intelligence experts, is the timing of the affair’s publication in Cairo. Last week, Ambassador Mohammed Bassiouny was recalled from his post in Tel Aviv, apparently in protest against an Israeli military reprisal for a Palestinian terrorist attack. The day he left, Israeli intelligence sources made it clear that, even if Egypt restored its ambassador, Bassiouny would not be coming back to Tel Aviv. This detail was picked up with interest by intelligence services in Europe and the US. The departed ambassador, who served in Israel continuously for 19 years, was known to be a senior Egyptian security service officer. Experts in the field wondered immediately if his recall was motivated less by the Palestinian intifada and more with some unknown covert business. The publication of the al-Filal arrest raises the question of whether the two occurrences are not connected. Further developments in Cairo’s latest “Israeli spy scandal” are awaited.

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