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May 20, 2022 1:07 pm

Upcoming Series Revisits Mossad Partnership With Ex-Nazi Commander to Thwart Egyptian Missile Threat

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Nazi SS commando Otto Skorzeny. Photo: Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe/Wikimedia Commons.

“The Bourne Identity” director Doug Liman will helm a limited series adaption of a chapter of a non-fiction book on the Israeli intelligence agency and its cooperation with a former Nazi Waffen-SS commander, Variety reported.

The project will focus on the true story of how the Mossad worked with former Nazi lieutenant colonel Otto Skorzeny — once described by British intelligence as “the most dangerous man in Europe” — to help stop a missile program begun by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to target Israel. Nasser hired a team of former Nazi scientists to build the missile program, and after Mossad efforts via espionage, abductions, extortions and assassinations failed to eliminate the threat, the Israelis desperately turned to Skorzeny for assistance, Variety noted.

Skorzeny was close to Adolf Hitler and once led a mission ordered by the Nazi leader to rescue former Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini from captivity.

Mossad’s collaboration with Skorzeny is described in detail 2018’s “Rise And Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations” by Israeli investigative journalist and New York Times Magazine writer Ronen Bergman, who has received Israel’s highest journalism honor, the Sokolov Award. The book’s title was inspired by the Talmudic passage, “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.”

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“This story recounts one of the most dramatic episodes in the history of Israeli intelligence operations. Israel, a little more than just one decade old, was facing an existential danger,” Bergman commented. “Mossad and other branches of the Israeli defense establishment were late in discovering the program, and realized that there was only one man who could save the situation, a favorite of Hitler’s. But how do you go about recruiting a wealthy, well-connected Nazi?”

Liman, whose credits include “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” will direct and also oversee development of the limited series with producer David Bartis (“Edge of Tomorrow”). The film is being backed by Story Syndicate, led by Academy Award and Emmy Award winners Dan Cogan and Liz Garbus, and Israel’s production company Abot Hameiri (“Shtisel”).

“This is the ultimate spy story, replete with the original James Bond, a nascent Mossad and Israel facing its extinction,” said Liman, while Cogan and Garbus described Mossad’s partnership with Skorzeny as “one the strangest, most surprising and dramatic true stories we have encountered in some time.”

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