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      Israeli Hero's Last Words: I Regret Nothing

      A former Syrian prisoner said that he discovered the last message Eli Cohen left the world.
      By David Lev
      First Publish: 10/9/2011, 4:36 PM

      Nadia Cohen
      Nadia Cohen
      Flash 90

      A Kurdish activist from Iraq, who was formerly a prisoner in a Syrian jail, told journalists that he had apparently been in the same prison cell that once held Israeli hero Eli Cohen – and that he had seen a sort of last will and testament by Cohen scrawled on the wall of the cell.

      According to the activist, Daoud Bagastani, Cohen wrote in Arabic “I do not regret what I did, and if I do regret anything, it is what I could not accomplish. Sometimes a person fails because of his friends and comrades,” the text continues. Bagastani contacted IDF Israel Radio with the information, which organized a conversation between him and Cohen's widow Nadia.

      Cohen, who was born in Egypt, valiantly worked as an Israeli spy in Syria for several years in the 1960s, providing invaluable information on the Syrian regime and army. Under the alias Kamel Amin Saabet, Cohen posed as a well-connected expatriate businessman who was returning home from Argentina, and built relationships with some of the top members of the Syrian political and military elite, and it was said that he was even friendly with Syria President Hafez al-Assad. He was finally captured and killed by the Syrians in 1965. His burial place has been kept a secret by Syria.

      Israeli historians have attributed to Cohen's intelligence some of Israel's success on the Syrian front during the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel quickly liberated the Golan Heights, which the Syrians had used as a staging ground for incessant shelling of communities in the north since Israel's establishment in 1948.

      Nadia Cohen reacted with great emotion to the information about her husband. “This is the first time I am hearing about this. I had heard something in the past about his last words, but I never imagined that it was written down anywhere. Even today, 46 years later, this is a difficult, emotional issue for me.”