Mosab Hassan Yousef
The Department of Homeland Security is trying to deport the son of a Hamas founder who told of his conversion to Christianity and decade of spying for Israel in a New York Times best-seller.
"Son of Hamas" author Mosab Hassan Yousef revealed on a blog hosted by his publisher he is scheduled to appear June 30 before Immigration Judge Rico J. Bartolomei at the DHS Immigration Court in San Diego.
Yousef said the DHS informed him Feb. 23, 2009, he was barred from asylum in the U.S. because there were reasonable grounds for believing he was "a danger to the security of the United States" and "engaged in terrorist activity."
An incredulous Yousef said the U.S. government's belief he is a terrorist is based on a complete misinterpretation of passages of his book in which he describes his work as a counterterrorism agent for the Israeli internal intelligence service Shin Bet.
Yousef said he's not so much worried about himself as he is "outraged" about "a security system that is so primitive and naive that it endangers the lives of countless Americans."
"If Homeland Security cannot tell the difference between a terrorist and a man who spent his life fighting terrorism, how can they protect their own people?" he asked in his blog post.
Yousef said whatever Judge Bartolomei decides will be appealed, "and this insane merry-go-round can go on like that for decades."
Yousef's asylum case – A 088 271 051 – was filed Aug. 22, 2007, about seven months after he arrived in the U.S. from Israel.
The office of DHS Senior Attorney Kerri Calcador, who is handling the case, referred WND's request for comment to Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lauren Mack, who said the agency is barred by policy from commenting, or even confirming or denying the existence of any case.
WND tried to reach Yousef for further comment, but he was not available.
As WND reported, Yousef worked alongside his father, Sheik Hassan Yousef, in the West Bank city of al-Ghaniya near Ramallah while secretly embracing Christian faith and serving as one of the top spies for Israel's internal security arm. Yousef was recruited by Shin Bet in 1996 at the age of 18 while at an Israeli detention facility.
Since publicly declaring his faith in August 2008, he has been condemned by an al-Qaida-affiliated group and disowned by his family.
Mosab Hassan Yousef in 2008 interview with Al-Hayat TV (Middle East Media Research Institute)
His chief Shin Bet handler, "Captain Loai," has confirmed his account and praised him in media interviews for disrupting dozens of suicide bombings and assassination attempts by Hamas, saving hundreds of lives.
Yousef said he recently received a document from DHS in which attorney Calcador pointed to passages in his book as evidence of terrorist activity.
Calcador cites a passage in which she says "a member of Shin Bet shows the respondent a list of suspects implicated in a March 2001 suicide bombing and asks the respondent whether he knows the individuals. The respondent indicates that he does know five of the people on the list and states that he previously drove them to safe houses."
In the DHS document, Calcador concludes, "At a bare minimum, evidence of the respondent's transport of Hamas members to safe houses … indicates that the respondent provided material support to a [Tier I] terrorist organization."
Yousef's response: "Is she kidding? Either Homeland Security's chief attorney has zero reading comprehension, or else she intentionally took the passage out of context. And I am not sure which is worse."
Yousef explained his job as a Shin Bet agent required him to be involved with his father's activities.
"So when he asked me to go with him to pick up these guys when they were released from the Palestinian Authority prison, I went," he said.
He insisted that no one at the time – not his father or even Israel – knew the five men were involved in suicide bombings.
He further argued he was the one who later provided Israel the evidence that connected the men to the terrorist bombing at the Hebrew University cafeteria in July 2002.
"And Homeland Security would do well to remember that there were five American citizens among the dead," Yousef said of the attack. "Apparently the agency needs also to be reminded that I was the one who located the terrorists and led to their arrest or death."
For that, he said, Homeland Security "today tells me 'thank you' by trying to deport me!"
He explained it was "part of his job" to pose as a terrorist and participate in "terrorist meetings" with Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat, his father and other Hamas leaders.
"I passed on to the Shin Bet all the information I gathered during those meetings and saved the lives of many people – including many Americans," he said.
'Exposing the weaknesses'
Yousef said his intent for writing the blog post was to alert Americans to the danger they face.
"I believe that God is using this situation to expose the weaknesses of Homeland Security and to put pressure on it to make changes that can save lives and preserve freedom," he said.
He recalled that when he arrived in America Jan. 2, 2007, he "walked into the airport like anyone else on a tourist visa."
When he went to the Homeland Security office seven months later, he said, he knocked on the door and told them, "Hey, guys, I am the son of Sheik Hassan Yousef, my father is involved in a terrorist organization, and I would like political asylum in your country."
He said the officials were shocked.
"I wanted them to see that they have huge gaps in their security and their understanding of terrorism and make changes before it's too late," Yousef explained.
Yousef said that when DHS demanded evidence of his claims, he presented a draft of his book "Son of Hamas."
"Surely this would make everything perfectly clear," he thought. "They would discover that I was an intelligence agent, not a terrorist. That I tracked down terrorists and put them in prison. That I was an asset, not a threat."
But Homeland Security, according to Yousef, doesn't "get it."
He said the FBI, in contrast, "has a much better understanding of terrorism and recognizes me as a valuable asset."
"They told Homeland Security that I am not a threat and advised them to drop the case. But Homeland Security shut its eyes and stopped up its ears and told the FBI, 'You have nothing to do with this. It is our job,'" Yousef said.
The agency's performance, he asserted, "should worry the American people."
"If Homeland Security cannot understand a simple story like mine, how can they be trusted with bigger issues?" he asked. "They seem to know only how to blindly follow rules and procedures. But to work intelligence, you have to be very creative. You have to accept exceptions. You need to be able to think beyond facts and circumstances.
"Homeland Security has absolutely no idea of the dangers that lie ahead," he said.
'Imagine suicide bombers in America'
He warned the U.S. is not prepared as al-Qaida adapts its strategy to lessons learned from terrorist groups like Hamas.
"For nearly 30 years, I watched from the inside as Hamas dug its claws deeper and deeper into Israel. They started awkwardly, clumsily, but they got good at it. And al-Qaida is becoming more like Hamas," he said.
The strategy of Hamas, Yousef explained, has always been to destroy Israel through a "slow bleeding war."
"They don't have nuclear bombs, so they send a suicide bomber here, another one there. And over the years, they severely damaged the economy and gave Israel a bad reputation all over the world," Yousef said.
While al-Qaida began with massive attacks like 9/11, Osama bin Laden "understands how effective the Hamas strategy will be on American soil," he said.
The U.S. has experienced nothing like Israel has endured, said Yousef, and the country is not ready.
"Try to imagine attacks by suicide bombers and car bombers, attacks on schools, in shopping malls, in the gridlock of rush-hour traffic, week after week, month after month, year after year, here and there, in big cities and rural towns," he said.
"No one feels safe anywhere. There seems to be no reason behind the attacks, no pattern. Everyone is a target."
Having been raised on the inside of this kind of environment, from both sides, he said he is only asking Homeland Security "to be humble and listen, so they can learn."
"Exposing terrorist secrets and warning the world in my first book cost me everything," he said. "I am a traitor to my people, disowned by my family, a man without a country. And now the country I came to for sanctuary is turning its back."