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.