AP Interview: Hamas spy unafraid, criticizes Islam

Daily News Article   —   Posted on March 4, 2010

(by Adam Goldman, YahooNews.com) AP, NEW YORK – Mosab Hassan Yousef, who helped Israel’s security forces kill and arrest members of the Islamic militant group Hamas, is probably marked for death.

He should be keeping silent. But he’s got a story to tell, one he delivers in his new book published this week, “Son of Hamas.”

“To be honest with you, being killed is not the worst thing that can happen,” he said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. “If they want to do kill me … let them do it, and they will be responsible for my blood.”

In his memoir, Yousef, the 32-year-old son of a Hamas founder, claims he was one of the Shin Bet security agency’s best assets and was dubbed The Green Prince, a reference to his Hamas pedigree and the Islamists’ signature green color.

During his 50-minute interview, for which he arrived with armed security, Yousef took shots at Hamas leaders including political chief Khaled Meshaal. He lashed out at Hamas, saying the organization lives in the Middle Ages.

And he hurled his most inflammatory comments at Islam, which he called a religion that teaches people to kill.

“It is not a religion of peace,” said Yousef, who converted to Christianity. “The biggest terrorist is the God of the Quran. I know this is very dangerous and this will offend many people. The more you follow the steps of the prophet of Islam and the God of Islam, the more you get close to being a terrorist.”

Yousef said he started working with the Shin Bet after he was arrested and witnessed Hamas brutalities inside prison. When he was released in 1997, he started meeting with the Shin Bet and gravitating toward Christianity.

Yousef thought he could do some good, preventing the deaths of Israelis and Palestinians.

“I got a chance to stop killing,” he said.

In his book, Yousef clearly relished his importance to Shin Bet and even designed his own missions, one involving duping Meshaal, who lives in Damascus.

“I love this spy stuff, especially with Israeli intelligence paving the way,” he wrote. “In this way, a new communications channel was established with Damascus, even though Meshaal had no idea that he was actually on a party line with the Shin Bet listening in.”

Yousef said Hamas has no idea how Shin Bet operates and [he] accused Hamas of killing innocent people suspected of collaborating with Israel.

The U.S. government considers Hamas a terrorist organization. Hamas says it provides schools and other social benefits to residents in the areas it controls.

Yousef declined to discuss certain aspects of his intelligence relationship with the Israeli security organization, saying he didn’t want to hinder its operational capabilities and give Hamas a “free gift.”

“They’re facing a dirty, difficult war,” he said, referring to the Shin Bet battles with Hamas. “I don’t agree with everything that they do. But their job is very important.”

His relationship with the Shin Bet lasted for more than a decade until he decided he’d had enough. He ended his lonely and dangerous existence as a spy in 2007.

Yousef said the Israelis allowed him to leave the region for a few months to take a break from his harrowing job and travel to America, where he stayed, working as a security guard at a grocery store.

When he told his story to his new friends in America, people didn’t believe him. But folks seem to be believing him now. His father, a senior Hamas leader, disowned him Monday.

Sheik Hassan Yousef said in a letter that his family had renounced “the one who was once our eldest son, who is called Mosab.”

The son “disbelieved in God” and “collaborated with our enemies,” said the father, who’s serving a six-year term in an Israeli prison.

Mosab Yousef said he didn’t take it personally.

“I know his heart,” Yousef said. “My dad is a loving person. He would never disown me. At some point we will be together again. I love my father, and he loves me.”

Yousef blamed his father’s decision on the Quran.

“The God of Quran is trying to unskin Muslims from their humanity,” he said, later adding, “Muslims are good people. But their God is absolutely bad.”

Yousef’s claims have rocked Hamas and exposed its vulnerability. His book comes on the heels of the assassination of a top Hamas operative in Dubai in January. Yousef denounced this latest killing in which Israel has been blamed and said the timing of the book was just a coincidence, not some Israeli scheme to generate even more paranoia among the ranks of Hamas.

Israel has not commented on Yousef’s claims or on widespread speculation that it carried out the Dubai assassination.

Asked about why people should believe his book, which was displayed at a Manhattan bookstore’s Christian inspiration section, Yousef said: “I am not expecting everybody to believe this story. Some people will doubt it.”

Yousef said Hamas had no idea how to govern and he hoped the violence between the Palestinians and the Israelis would end. He said he thinks his traitorous efforts will pay off.

“A change,” he said, “will happen for the next generation.”

Copyright ©2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. The information contained in this AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Visit news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100304/ap_on_en_ot/us_israel_hamas_spy for the original post.

Questions

NOTES: Before you answer the questions, read the following notes, and the information in “Background” below.

Shin Bet, is Israel’s internal security service. Its motto is “Defender that shall not be seen”, or, “The unseen shield”. It is one of three principal organizations of the Israeli Intelligence Community, alongside Aman (the military intelligence of the IDF [Israeli military]) and Mossad (responsible for overseas intelligence work).

Hamas is a radical Islamic Sunni group founded in Egypt and operating mainly out of the Gaza Strip.  It is identified as a terrorist group by the U.S.  Hamas remains zealously dedicated to its violent, Islamist goals and seeks to destroy Israel and replace the Palestinian Authority with an Islamic state.  Hamas has violently opposed any political compromises with Israel and has frequently used suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israel to derail the peace process.  Hamas now governs the Gaza strip after ousting the more moderate Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas, whose administration now only controls the West Bank.

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1. Who is Mosab Hassan Yousef?

2. Why do you think Mosad Yousef wrote the book “Son of Hamas” when he knew it would result in attempts to kill him?

3. What does Mr. Yousef think of the possibility that Hamas may kill him?

4. Mosab Yousef’s father is a leader in Hamas. How does Yousef regard Hamas?

5. a) How does Mr. Yousef view Islam?
b) Are you surprised by this view? Explain your answer.

6. Why did Mr. Yousef start working with Shin Bet?

7. What is Mr. Yousef’s view of Shin Bet and their tactics?

8. How has Mr. Yousef’s father reacted to his book?

9. Why does Mosab Yousef say he is not upset by his father’s statement that he disowns him?

10. Mosab Yousef risked his life to work with Shin Bet, then to convert to Christianity from Islam, and now to publish a book about his work with Shin Bet. What do you think of Yousef’s motive for his actions?  


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Background

MOSAB HASSAN YOUSEF: (from telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/2613399/Mosab-Hassan-Yousef-son-of-Hamas-leader-becomes-a-Christian.html)

  • Mosab Hassan Yousef was raised as a Muslim by his politically powerful family. His father, Hassan Yousef, a highly respected sheikh born in a West Bank town…, is a founding member of Hamas, whose military wing has instigated dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel since it was formed in 1987.
  • …Hamas [is an] Iranian-backed movement that seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and has been branded a terrorist organisation by Israel and the West.. [Hassan Yousef] is currently serving a six-year sentence in an Israeli prison for his political activities.
  • In a 2008 interview with London’s Daily Telegraph, Mosab Yousef said that his father, was in prison when he “got the worst news in his life” – that his son had become a Christian and left Ramallah. “But at the same time he sent me a message of love.”
  • “Everybody is asking him to disown me. You understand if he disowns me he will give terrorists a chance to kill me. He loves me as a son and he believes that what I’ve done was something I believed in, but at the same time it’s very difficult for him to understand and he won’t be able to understand.”
  • Many saw him as heir apparent to his father, who retains great influence both within Hamas and in Palestinian society, winning election to the Palestinian Legislative Council in January 2006 from his prison cell.
  • But Mr. Yousef said that his questioning of Islam and Hamas began early. His father, a pragmatist who has even suggested Hamas would be willing to talk to Israel under certain conditions, would often accept his concerns, such as the targeting of civilians.
  • Mr. Yousef said that his doubts about Islam and Hamas crystallised when he realised not all Hamas leaders were like his father, a moderate who he describes as “open-minded, very humble and honest.”
  • Mr. Yousef said that he was appalled by the brutality of [Hamas], including the suicide bombers seeking glory through jihad.
  • “Hamas, they are using civilians’ lives, they are using children, they are using the suffering of people every day to achieve their goals. And this is what I hate,” he said.
  • It was after a chance encounter nine years ago with a British missionary that Mr. Yousef began exploring Christianity.
  • He…began secretly studying the Bible, struck by the central tenet “love your enemies”.

ON MOSAB YOUSEF’S WORK WITH SHIN BET: (from rom the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.com)

  • The intelligence [information] [Mr. Yousef] supplied Israel led to the exposure of a number of terrorist cells, and to the prevention of dozens of suicide bombings and assassination attempts on Israeli figures.
  • His former handler [liaison], who no longer serves with [Shin Bet], says Yousef collaborated with Israel because he wanted to save lives.
  • “So many people owe him their life and don’t even know it,” said the handler, named in Yousef’s book as Captain Loai. “People who did a lot less were awarded the Israel Security Prize. He certainly deserves it.”
  • Loai makes no secret of his admiration for his former source. “The amazing thing is that none of his actions were done for money,” he says. “He did things he believed in. He wanted to save lives.

Resources

Read about Hamas’ leaders at cfr.org/publication/9811.

For background information on Hamas, go to cfr.org/publication/8968.

Watch a video of part of Mr. Yousef’s interview with the AP below: