Historical Dictionary of Israeli Intelligence

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BINNET, MAX (1917–1954).Born in Hungary to an Orthodox Jewish
family, he is known also by his Hebrew name Meir Binnet. In 1935
Binnet with his parents illegally immigrated to Palestine. He began
life in Palestine as a stevedore in the Tel Aviv port. After that, he
worked in mechanics and gained expertise in communication me-
chanics, then joined the Information Serviceof the Haganah militia.
After the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, he joined Mil-
itary Intelligence(MI) and was dispatched on espionage missions in
many Arab countries. He could speak Hebrew, German, English,
French, Italian, and Farsi and, being an expert on communication
techniques, Binnet became the ideal man for espionage. He operated
under cover as a German businessman. In Iraq, where he had had
some notable spying successes, Binnet was sentenced to death in ab-
sentia. Between missions, he married Jean, a new immigrant to Israel
from South Africa.
In 1951 Binnet joined Unit 131and was assigned to a mission in
Egypt. In 1952, now promoted to major, Binnet was sent to West Ger-
many to build his cover story. Eventually he entered Egypt as if rep-
resenting a West German artificial limb company. This cover story
enabled Binnet to get close to Egyptian war-injured and their com-
manders. They appreciated his way of never failing to ask after the
injured. His mission was to penetrate high echelons of the Egyptian
government. He succeeded in visiting Egypt’s military bases and be-
came a close friend of General Muhammad Nagib.
Binnet’s success in enlarging his circle of friends resulted in the di-
rectors of Ford Motors in Cairo offering him a managerial job in the
company. Initially he did not bring his family (wife and little daughter)
to Egypt. His wife was not even supposed to know that he was sta-
tioned in that country. He would write her letters in double envelopes;
the inner one was addressed to his wife in Israel, the outer one was sent
to London to a secret contact address for the Israeli embassy. There
British stamps were put on the inner envelope, which was then mailed
to his wife in Israel. Once a serious breach of security happened when
the Egyptian stamps were inadvertently not removed from the enve-
lope, and his wife thus found out the kind of job her husband was en-
gaged in. Because the secret was out, she and their daughter were al-
lowed to join him in Egypt. Under the cover of family tours, Max
Binnet succeeded in visiting many strategic Egyptian points.


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