Radical Son

The son of a Hamas founder reveals how he worked with Israeli intelligence to save lives and stop Islamic terror.

He is not his father’s son.

In a stunning revelation, the son of a Hamas founder told an Israeli newspaper this week that he once served as an Israeli intelligence agent. Mosab Hassan Yousef, 32, told the Israeli daily Haaretz that he spied for more than ten years on the Iranian-backed terrorist organization that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

In his role as Israeli informant, Yousef is credited with helping arrest high-ranking terrorists. Much more important, however, is that he also saved the lives of “hundreds of innocent people” with the information he provided the Israeli intelligence service, Shin Bet, about pending suicide attacks. “So many people owe their lives to him and don’t even know it,” Yousef’s unidentified Shin Bet handler told Haaretz.

Yousef’s Israeli handler went on to relate how the “Green Prince” – Yousef’s codename, taken from the color for Islam – personally picked out a suicide bomber in a Ramallah square and followed him until an arrest could be made.

Next week, Yousef’s memoir about his experiences in the terrorist organization will be published in the United States. Aptly named Son Of Hamas, the book is described on Yousef’s Facebook site as “a gripping account of terror, betrayal, political intrigue, and unthinkable choices.”

A tale of terror: Mosab Hassan Yousef’s memoir will be released next week.

Besides offering a uniquely intimate glimpse into the murderous world of Islamic terrorism, Yousef’s revelation of his Israeli spy past represents another serious blow to Hamas. This week, police in Dubai indicated the senior Hamas operative killed in his hotel room in the emirate last month, reputedly by an Israeli hit team, may in fact have been set up with information provided by the terrorist organization itself.

Yousef’s admission, coming so soon after the Dubai reversal, will likely cause Hamas members to wonder how deeply their ranks have been penetrated by informers. History shows that terrorist organizations, such as the pre-revolutionary Bolshevik Party in Russia, suspecting such infiltration among their membership, sometimes carried out murderous purges that often claimed the innocent as well as the guilty. A few more such Israeli intelligence coups may see the same thing occur inside Hamas.

Shin Bet recruited Yousef in an Israeli prison in 1996. Thanks to his competence and professionalism, he came to be regarded as a very valuable asset, his existence known to only a handful of Shin Bet operatives. “His grasp of intelligence matters was just as good as ours – the ideas, the insights. One insight of his was worth 1,000 hours of thought by top experts,” said his former handler.

But what struck the Israelis the most was that in the shadow world of terrorism, where most things have a price, Yousef did not accept any payment. “The amazing thing is that none of his actions were done for money,” said the handler. “He did things he believed in. He wanted to save lives.”

The probable reason for a Muslim terrorist’s unusual regard for the sanctity of human life may prove to be as interesting a story as Yousef’s spying activities with Hamas. Over a decade ago, Yousef, who now lives in California, converted to Christianity.

While the conversion of Muslims to Christianity is less well known than from Christianity to Islam, it does occur. One of the reason Christian groups often keep them secret, or don’t keep statistics, is that Muslim apostates are subject to the death penalty under Islam’s Sharia law. So, even if Yousef had never worked for Israeli intelligence, his life would still be in peril. But the fact that a high-ranking Hamas member with such a sterling terrorist pedigree (his father is currently serving a six-year sentence in an Israeli prison) would convert, while highly unusual, is not unknown. There are reports that even members of the Muslim Brotherhood have abandoned their Islamic faith.

One such Brotherhood member, who once burned a church in his Middle Eastern country, converted after he was asked by a senior Brotherhood member to read the New Testament and write an anti-Cristian tract. Instead of producing the assigned anti-Christian screed, however, he was so drawn to Christ's personility and the Bible's central messages of love and forgiveness, that he not only converted but became an evangelist with another Brotherhood convert. In a grim warning to Muslim apostates, both were later hunted down by their former coreligionists and savagely murdered.

In discovering his new faith, Yousef appears also to have discovered a new value for human life. In particular, he has become an outspoken advocate of Israel’s security interests. Besides his life-saving work for Shin Bet, Yousef has strongly apposed any effort by Israel to exchange imprisoned terrorists for the Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit, whom Hamas kidnapped three years ago.

Yousef knows probably better than anyone more people will be killed in terrorist attacks if the prisoners are released. He has already blamed Hamas for killing Palestinians and not Israel. His opposition is such that he told Haaretz he was willing to “put on an army uniform and join Israel’s Special Forces in order to liberate Gilad Schalit.” As Yousef puts it, “We wasted so many years with investigations and arrests to capture the very terrorists that they now want to release in return for Schalit. That must not be done.”

As for those who continue to counsel Israel to bend to the terrorists’ demands, Yousef speaks a hard truth founded on years of personal experience: “Hamas cannot make peace with the Israelis. That is against what their God tells them. It is impossible to make peace with infidels.” Those are hardly the words one would expect to hear from the son of a Hamas founder, but Mosab Hassan Yousef’s tale is extraordinary – not least because he has lived to tell it.