Mosab Hassan Yousef Deportation Threat

As has been widely reported, Mosab Hassan Yousef is facing the possibility of deportation from the USA; Yousef is the son of a senior Hamas figure, and he gained some media attention in 2008 for moving to America and announcing his conversion to Christianity (I blogged on this at the time). He subsequently revealed that he had worked with Israeli security services to undermine Hamas terrorist operations, and his memoir, Son of Hamas, has garnered consderable interest. He gives an account on Facebook:

It began when I arrived in America January 2, 2007. I walked into the airport like anyone else on a tourist visa. Seven months later, I went to the Homeland Security office, knocked on their door and told them, “Hey, guys, I am the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, my father is involved in a terrorist organization, and I would like political asylum in your country.”

They were shocked. They didn’t expect it. I told them, hey, you didn’t discover me. You didn’t catch me. I came to you and told you who I am to wake you up. 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.

I filed an application for political asylum. Not surprisingly, on February 23, 2009, they told me that I was “barred from a grant of asylum because there were reasonable grounds for believing [I] was a danger to the security of the United States and because [I] engaged in terrorist activity.”

More hearings followed. When they demanded evidence to support my claim that I was not a terrorist or a security threat, I filed a draft of my book, Son of Hamas. Surely this would make everything perfectly clear…

Recently, I received a document in which Homeland Security senior attorney Kerri Calcador claimed that, “In the book, the respondent discusses his extensive involvement with Hamas in great detail. For example, in one portion of the book, 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.”

On page 5, Calcador concluded that, “At a bare minimum, evidence of the respondent’s transport of Hamas members to safe houses—discussed above in the Statement of the Case as but one example of the respondent’s involvement with Hamas—indicates that the respondent provided material support to a [Tier I] terrorist organization.”

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.

Even a child reading the book can see that, during that time, I was working as a secret agent for the Shin Bet (Israeli’s internal security service, comparable to our FBI)…

Various conservative groups have taken up the cause, some inevitably suggesting this is some sort of Islamic conspiracy by the US government.

I have sympathy for Yousef’s predicament, as he tells it: some may regard his spying for Israel as a betrayal, but those who support Palestinian rights (and that includes me) should recognise that the responsibility lies with Hamas, whose terrorism and religious extremism clearly alienates thoughtful Palestinians and puts some, like Yousef, in impossible situations. As I blogged recently, Yousef is against the Israel occupation, and his co-author in Son of Hamas is very critical of Israel. Yousef has also posted an article from Haaretz to his website which contains the following from his former Shin Bet handler:

“I handled no few agents who had ideological motives, who did not want to see more killings. Many were critical of Israel and Mosab is no Zionist. From his point of view, the War of Independence was the Nakba…”

And although he has converted to Christianity, he has said that he doesn’t wish to be seen as a “spiritual trophy”. However, there is one unencouraging sign on this front; Christian Zionist author Joel C. Rosenberg (background here and here) writes on his blog that:

Mosab Hasan Yousef, author of the New York Times best-selling non-fiction book, Son of Hamas, will be speaking by videotape at the 2010 Epicenter Conference next week.

That puts Yousef in depressing company: the 2010 Epicenter Conference includes the like of Tony Perkins, Kay Arthur, and William Boykin. Is this to be Yousef’s future, to be wheeled out at these rallies evermore to make our flesh creep with awful disclosures about the evils of Islam, like Walid Shoebat? Of course, Yousef probably feels indebted to those who have supported him in the USA, but one hoped for something better. I blogged on the 2008 Epicenter Conference here.

There’s also a bit of humbug from Rosenberg on the subject:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security may soon deport Mosab back to the West Bank where he very well could be assassinated.

But Rosenberg regards the West Bank as being part of Israel – and although the deportation threat does seem on the face of it to be excessively bureaucratic, surely the primary responsibility for looking after Yousef should be with Israel, rather than the USA?

Yousef has a court hearing on 30 June. Of special interest to me, the judge has the excellent name of Rico Bartolomei.