sonofhamas

Archive for the ‘PERSONAL’ Category

In memory of a great lady

In PERSONAL on August 29, 2010 at 03:25

My mother’s mother, Fatima, died Friday morning. She was 85. She is my hero.

Like 75 million other women in the Middle East, my grandmother never learned to read or write, so she could not even read the Qur’an. Yet, I guarantee that she was on her knees five times a day, every day of her life, reciting what she was taught to the only god she ever knew. All she memorized was a few little suras that didn’t even make sense to her.

My grandmother was a beautiful young woman. Her husband died when she was in her thirties, and many Muslim men came and tried to marry her. But she didn’t want that. She devoted her life to raising her eight children, including her eldest son, my uncle Ibrahim, who you can read about in my book. She was a good, loving wife and mother.

My grandmother worked hard as a housekeeper at a UN school to provide for her children. Every day, she got up at 4:30 to pray. She washed and dressed and fed her children, got them to school and went to work. Everybody loved her. She never offended anybody. She was a very honest person. When people die, friends and family try to remember the good parts of their lives, but I don’t remember anything bad about my grandmother.

Two weeks before she died, she was thinking about me. I was very special to her. My family was there, and she was saying, “God bless you, Mosab” and “I pray for you, Mosab.” She knew that I turned my back on Islam, that I was disowned and everything. But her spirit kept blessing me, regardless.

In her last hours at the hospital, my grandmother did not even recognize Ibrahim, but she kept on mentioning my sister Sabeela’s name, because Sabeela helped her so much in her life.

I couldn’t be with my grandmother during her final days or hours. I can’t go now to say goodbye to her or call my mother to say I am sorry.

But I can at least honor her in my blog.

My grandmother had no idea who Jesus Christ is. She never heard of Buddhism or Hinduism or anything but Islam.

I know that God is just and that he understands that there are hundreds of millions of Muslim women who sacrifice everything and know only Islam. They are just obedient and loyal and know nothing about God’s mercy, because they have no chance to hear about him or meet with him.

I pray that God will have mercy on her soul, because she gave so much and received nothing and because she was faithful all her life to do what she believed he wanted her to do.

The Heart of the Matter

In PERSONAL on July 10, 2010 at 18:20

Gonen ben Yitzhak and Mosab Hassan Yousef - living proof that there absolutely can be lasting peace in the Middle East.

I am posting the article that Gonen and I wrote for The Washington Post before the deportation hearing because, in it, we were able to express some very important things that have gotten lost in the media mist.

First, the Department of Homeland Security’s campaign to send me back to the Palestinian territories and to certain death was a test of America’s moral strength and the precious freedoms that are too often taken for granted.

Second, the deep, enduring friendship that developed between Gonen and me shouts to the world that peace in that region is definitely possible.

WHY DEPORT A FRIEND TO MIDDLE EAST PEACE?

By Mosab Hassan Yousef and Gonen ben Itzhak, Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ours is an unlikely friendship. Gonen ben Itzhak is an Israeli, the son of a retired Israel Defense Forces (IDF) general who was in charge of defeating the first intifada some 20 years ago. Mosab Hassan Yousef is a Palestinian, the son of a founder of Hamas whose father was one of the leaders of that intifada. The Palestinians’ goal for the intifada was to elevate their cause. Israel sought to keep violence down and protect its citizens. Today we are sacrificing everything—possibly even our lives—to build a bridge of peace between our peoples.

As detailed in the book Son of Hamas, published this year, we became partners in the fight against terrorism; Mosab became an undercover agent for the Shin Bet, Israel’s security service; Gonen became his Shin Bet handler. In the nine years we worked together, the two of us, once sworn enemies, embraced mutual recognition and rejected the mindset of revenge.

All the efforts of Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization failed to achieve the goals of the intifada. All the efforts of the IDF failed to stop the hate that fueled the intifada.

Mosab observed firsthand the craziness of the cycle of violence. Mosab began to question who his real enemies were: the Hamas leaders who tortured their fellow Palestinian prisoners, or the Shin Bet, who arrested and imprisoned him. Over the 16 months that Mosab was in prison, the answer became clear, and this persuaded Mosab to go undercover for the Shin Bet. Gonen, whose code name was “Captain Loai,” became Mosab’s handler. Mosab’s reports led to the arrests of several high-ranking Palestinian figures. As we worked together to prevent the deaths of hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians, the two of us became friends.

We believe that friendships like ours are key to eliminating hate and promoting the liberty that both our peoples so desperately desire.

Mosab converted to Christianity in 2005 and moved to California in 2007. America has a vision of a world where liberty reigns. When Mosab brought terrorists to justice while working undercover for the Shin Bet, he was American at heart, fighting for liberty and justice.

Mosab has lived in this country for more than two years. We were shocked when, in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security opposed his request for political asylum, all the more so when it threatened to deport Mosab in the name of protecting American security. If this decision is upheld, it will signal to the world that America does not stand by those who sacrifice to oppose terrorism. If America wants liberty to prevail in all places, it must not abandon those who share the ideals of freedom.

Gathering human intelligence in the war against terrorism will become impossible if the United States does not protect those who risk their lives on behalf of American values.

Mosab was born a son of Hamas, but he rejected his violent destiny and found the strength to choose a different path. But having left revenge behind, he faces possible deportation as payback for embracing the ideal of loving his enemy.

When an immigration judge in California decides about Mosab’s future on Wednesday, the ramifications will be much greater than whether he is sent back to certain death anywhere in the Middle East. It is a decision about the future of liberty and about the best path to peace.

Whatever happens in San Diego, we hope that our story can be a bridge to peace. Peace is a state of mind and heart before it is a political reality. Our friendship is proof that hating hearts can change — and that changed hearts are the only hope for liberty.

Political Asylum Granted!

In PERSONAL on July 1, 2010 at 05:01

Honestly, I am still in shock. I was sitting beside my attorney, focused on how I would answer the questions that were coming. Gonen ben Itzhak, my dear friend and former Shin Bet handler, had flown in from Israel to testify on my behalf and waited with a security guard in the empty courtroom next door.

Judge Rico Bartolomei was entering into the record all the documents and motions that had been introduced since my last hearing, getting everybody on the same page before we started.

That done, he called for Gonen.

That’s when DHS senior attorney Kerri Calcador dropped the bombshell. The Department of Homeland Security, she said, no longer opposes the asylum petition of Mosab Hassan Yousef.

No one in the courtroom could get hold of what had just happened. Not me, not the judge, not my attorney. We were prepared for several hours of testimony and defense. But 15 minutes after we walked into the courtroom, it was over.

There was nothing left to do. Judge Bartolomei granted me political asylum, pending a routine background check, rose and left the courtroom. Then the security guards efficiently led all of us out of the courtroom, down the halls, through the razor-wired fences and out into the parking lot, where a crowd of well-wishers applauded and cheered and network cameras rolled.

As we drove home through San Diego, we thanked God for his grace and for all those he used to make this happen.

For countless people around the world who prayed for me.

For FOX News, which is a lot more than just a conservative voice. Over the past year and a half, I have come to know and respect the professionals at FOX who have become much more to me than reporters, producers and camera crews. They are good people who had the courage to cover a story that others rejected and/or did not understand. Special thanks to chief correspondent Jonathan Hunt.

For U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), who circulated a letter through the House of Representatives that was co-sponsored by 21 other congressmen, asking DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to give “full consideration . . . to Mr. Yousef’s views and conduct in recent years, particularly his cooperation with Shin Bet at significant risk to his own safety and life.” Signatories include Representatives Frank Wolf (VA), Trent Franks (AZ), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Bill Posey (FL), Kenny Marchant (TX), John Kline (MN), John Shadegg (AZ), Joe Wilson (SC), Daniel Lungren (CA), John Boozman (AK), Michele Bachmann (MN), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Bill Shuster (PA), Joseph Pitts (PA), Lynn Jenkins (KS), Rob Bishop (UT), Jeff Fortenberry (NE), Dan Rohrabacher (CA), Robert Aderholt (AL), Mike Pence (IN) and Aaron Schock (IL).

For Tzachi Hanegbi, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of The Knesset (Israeli Parliament), MK Einat Wilf and other committee members for their very kind letter thanking me for my “actions to strengthen the security of Israeli citizens and Palestinian residents from 1998 to 2007.”

For the wisdom and integrity of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.

I am especially grateful to Sarah Stern, president of the Endowment for Middle Eastern Truth. Today’s blessings would not have happened without her and this amazing organization.

Homeland In-Security

In PERSONAL on May 22, 2010 at 14:56

I have worn many hats in 32 years—Muslim, Christian, son of Hamas, Prisoner 823, spy, traitor, USAID administrator, businessman, best-selling author.

Now I am Homeland Security File# A 088 271 051.

And, according to these “highly trained” civil servants, I am a threat to America’s national security and must be deported.

On June 30, at 8 a.m., I have a hearing before Immigration Judge Rico J. Bartolomei at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration Court in San Diego.

But I am not worried about this. I am outraged! My only concern is about a security system that is so primitive and naive that it endangers the lives of countless Americans. Honestly, Judge Bartolomei’s verdict really does not matter. If he rules to deport me, I will appeal. And Homeland Security has assured me that, if he rules in my favor, they will appeal. And this insane merry-go-round can go on like that for decades.

My concern is not about being deported. It is that I am being forced to stand and defend myself as a terrorist! This is ridiculous. And as long as this case is in the courts, I cannot leave the United States. If I do, I will never be able to return. For what? For risking my life fighting terrorism in the Middle East for ten years? For saving the lives of Israelis, Palestinians and Americans?

I should never be put through this in the first place. It’s crazy.

Don’t think that I am writing this post to get you to feel sorry for me or even to write your congressman or senator on my behalf. 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. But first, you need to understand everything that led up to File# A 088 271 051.

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. 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 they didn’t get it.

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, Ms. 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). My job required me to do anything I could to be involved with my 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.

First of all, no one—not me, not my father, not even Israel—knew at the time that these men were involved with suicide bombings. With all of its assets, the Shin Bet did not put the pieces together for three more years.

Second, I was the one who connected these men with the 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. Apparently the agency needs also to be reminded that I was the one who located the terrorists and led to their arrest or death.

Did the American government launch a special investigation to find their killers? No. Even the Israeli government had no idea who or where they were. I am not boasting, but the record is clear that I was pivotal to bringing them all to justice. And Homeland Security today tells me “thank you” by trying to deport me!

Yes, while working for Israeli intelligence, I posed as a terrorist. Yes, I carried a gun. Yes, I was in terrorist meetings with Yassir Arafat, my father and other Hamas leaders. It was part of my job. And 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.

Maybe Homeland Security only read a few chapters of my book. If they would have bothered to read all 251 pages, they would know that I also worked with 40 Americans on the USAID water project in the West Bank for five years. Who took care of their security? Who warned them not to come to Ramallah if there was going to be an Israeli military incursion or if there would be shooting? Who protected their offices? I wasn’t being paid to do that. I did it because of a Christian morality that taught me to love, not hate. I protected my manager. I protected everybody. Nobody hurt them.

Is this the behavior of someone who is a threat to 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? Why is Homeland Security wasting its time investigating a former Israeli intelligence operative, instead of looking for the real terrorists out there? Is it personal? Racial? Political? Or just stupidity?

I don’t doubt that they are embarrassed, and they should be. Maybe they feel a little insecure because someone with my background got into this country and moved around for seven months, and they were clueless.

One thing I have learned, they are definitely arrogant, acting as though they are something special and know everything there is to know about fighting terrorism.

The FBI, on the other hand, 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.”

They worry me, and they should worry the American people. If Homeland Security cannot understand a simple story like mine, how can they be trusted with bigger issues? 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. 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-Qaeda is becoming more like Hamas.

The strategy of Hamas has always been to bleed Israel. A slow bleeding war to destroy Israel in the long term. 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.

Al-Qaeda started with huge attacks like September 11. But bin Laden has learned from Hamas’s war against Israel how to bleed its enemy. Al-Qaeda understands how effective the Hamas strategy will be on American soil.

Americans have never experienced anything like this. This 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. No one feels safe anywhere. There seems to be no reason behind the attacks, no pattern. Everyone is a target. Men, women, children, office buildings, private homes, town halls, schools and hospitals. The government is powerless to stop them. Every car and truck you see is suspect. Every suitcase and package is suspect. Someone standing in line in a bank points to a briefcase on the floor and asks the person in front of him, “Is this yours?”

“No,” the man says, wide-eyed.

Seconds later, the bank is empty.

I was born and raised in this kind of environment. More than that, I was on the inside of both sides. I am not asking Homeland Security or anybody else for a job or a salary. I am asking them to be humble and listen, so they can learn.

Exposing terrorist secrets and warning the world in my first book cost me everything. 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.

Kerri Calcador warned in Homeland Security’s pre-hearing statement that, when I appear at my hearing in June, “the respondent bears the burden of proving his eligibility for relief.” In other words, I am guilty unless I can prove to their satisfaction that I am not a threat to U.S. security. And Homeland Security has been embarrassed. They want me out. They don’t want to change. But there are too many lives at stake to worry about the personal sensitivities of the civil servants at Homeland Security.

That’s why I am asking you to share this blog post with as many people as you can.

Write letters to:

Kerri Calcador

Senior Attorney

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Immigration and Customs Enforcement

880 Front Street, Suite 224

San Diego, California 92101

or call her at 619.557.5578.

And if you live in the San Diego area, come to my hearing at 8 a.m. on June 30 and see for yourself Homeland Security in action.

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