‘Son of Hamas’ offers take on terrorism

‘Son of Hamas’ offers take on terrorism

Mosab Hassan Yousef, left, the son of the founder of Hamas who became a counter-spy for Israel, answers questions from Rabbi Steven Miodownik of Congregation Ahavas Achim.     
Mosab Hassan Yousef, left, the son of the founder of Hamas who became a counter-spy for Israel, answers questions from Rabbi Steven Miodownik of Congregation Ahavas Achim.     

Mosab Hassan Yousef said the same “collective consciousness” that allows Muslim jihadists to indiscriminately murder Israelis was now taking root in the terrorist attacks in Paris and around the world.

Yousef knows about the ideology of terror that is behind waves of suicide bombings and attacks because he grew up in Ramallah in the West Bank as the son of the founder of Hamas.

However, he became disgusted with the culture of violence and became a counter-spy for the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, for 10 years, becoming known by the code name “The Green Prince.”

On Nov. 15, Yousef spoke before a sellout crowd of several hundred at Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva in Edison following the showing of the 2014 documentary, The Green Prince

Just two days after the Paris attacks, the event included extraordinary security provided by Edison Police and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and Sheriff’s Department, including four police officers guarding the rear and another four guarding the front entrance to the school. Several patrol cars sat with their lights flashing along the street leading to RPRY. A fire truck and two ambulances were parked outside.

Yousef, the author of the book Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices, said that too many Muslims are guided by a “dark ideology” that impels them to kill others and even sacrifice their own lives to bring about a global Islamic state. 

It is unlikely that Israel will ever be able to achieve peace with Hamas without destroying the group, said Yousef. Likewise, Europe, the United States, and other democratic nations must forcefully confront this dangerous ideology.

“The Islamic state is an actual ideology,” said Yousef, who now lives in the U.S. “The terrorists are not just some sick people…. Islam is not a peaceful religion.”

While President Barack Obama and other world leaders are focusing on the individuals perpetrating the terrorism, Yousef pointed out that “nobody can kill an idea.”

“I have been saying that for eight years, but no one is listening,” he said. “They are just reacting, and the governments don’t know what to do. I look at this and laugh because all I see is stupidity.

“We keep doing wrong steps and not solving the problem,” he explained to sustained applause.

As the eldest son and right-hand man to Hassan Yousef, the teenage Yousef bought into his father’s extremist ideology.

Arrested by Israel in the mid-1990s at age 17 for illegally buying and transporting guns, Mosab Yousef was sent to prison. Already repelled by the violence he had witnessed, he found himself with other Hamas prisoners. He was further repulsed by the acts of violence against those they perceived as traitors.

His antipathy for Hamas evident, he was “turned” by Gonen Ben Yitzhak, who would become his handler at Shin Bet for the next 10 years. The elaborate ruse allowed the agency to extract valuable intelligence, while protecting the family Yousef loved, warning him in advance of operations that could endanger their safety. 

His double identity also forced Israel to arrest Yousef several times so as to not arouse suspicion. In the film, he talks about chopping vegetables with his father for one last meal together, knowing they would both be arrested later that night. While in prison, however, the son would spend much time behind closed doors with Ben Yitzhak, with whom he developed a close relationship.

When Ben Yitzhak left Shin Bet to pursue a law career, Yousef decided to leave for America, where he sought political asylum. He was turned down by Homeland Security because of that teenage weapons arrest and some of his operations for Hamas while an Israeli operative.

To make his case, Yousef went public with his story and wrote his book. When Ben Yitzhak heard of his troubles in the States, the Israeli broke with protocol and blew his own cover to come to Yousef’s defense.

Homeland Security dropped its objections, and Yousef initially settled in San Diego, although he has been forced to move several times for security reasons.

The counter-spy and his former handler remain close; Ben Yitzhak’s three children refer to him as “Uncle Mosab.” Yousef’s own family has publicly disowned him.

Although Yousef toyed with Christianity when he arrived in the U.S., and told the Wall Street Journal in 2010 that he had converted to Christianity, he now says he subscribes to no religion. He nevertheless concluded his talk by saying, “God bless Israel.” 

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