http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article75456.ece

Hamas spy finds home in California, seeks asylum
 
In this March 3, 2010 file photo, Mosab Hassan Yousef speaks during an 
interview in New York. Yousef says he will be killed if he is deported from the 
United States to the West Bank. The oldest son of one of Hamas' founders, he 
was an Israeli spy for a decade, and he abandoned Islam for Christianity, 
further marking him a traitor. (AP)

By ELLIOT SPAGAT | AP 

Published: Jun 29, 2010 14:03 Updated: Jun 29, 2010 23:38 

SAN DIEGO: Mosab Hassan Yousef says he will be killed if he is deported from 
the United States to the West Bank. The oldest son of one of Hamas' founders, 
he was an Israeli spy for a decade, and he abandoned Islam for Christianity, 
further marking him a traitor.

He is scheduled to plead his case Wednesday to an immigration judge in San 
Diego, four months after publishing memoirs that say he was one of the Shin Bet 
security agency's best assets and was dubbed The Green Prince, a reference to 
his Hamas pedigree and the Islamists' signature green color.

Yousef's case seems straightforward: Helping Israel find and kill members of 
the militant group would make him a marked man back home. Nearly two dozen 
members of Congress wrote Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano this week that 
Yousef would be in "grave danger" in the Middle East.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey says his deportation would discourage other 
potential spies.

"It is not an exaggeration to say that such an action would set us back years 
in the war on terrorism," Woolsey wrote in a letter released by Yousef's 
attorney. "Mosab's deportation would be such an inhumane act it would 
constitute a blight on American history." But the Department of Homeland 
Security isn't convinced and wants him gone, calling him "a danger to the 
security of the United States" who has "engaged in terrorist activity." Yousef, 
34, settled in Southern California after stepping off a plane in Los Angeles 
with a tourist visa in January 2007. He remains free while his application for 
asylum is considered.

"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," he 
wrote on his blog last month.

Asylum applicants can close their hearings to the public, but Yousef welcomes 
the publicity. He urges supporters to contact the Homeland Security attorney 
assigned to his case and invites anyone in the San Diego area to attend the 
hearing.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency within Homeland Security 
that is arguing the government's case, declined to comment, saying in a 
statement that it "respects the privacy of all individuals involved in the 
immigration litigation process." Homeland Security called Yousef a terrorist 
danger when it denied asylum in February 2009 and, in court documents provided 
to The Associated Press by Yousef's attorney, says he "discusses his extensive 
involvement with Hamas in great detail" in his recent memoir. It cites a 
passage in which Yousef identifies five suspects in a 2001 suicide bombing to a 
Shin Bet official and admits that he drove them to safe houses. It was not more 
specific in its pre-hearing briefing about the threat he may pose to the US

Yousef says his intelligence work for Israel required him to do anything he 
could to learn about Hamas and that neither he nor Israel knew they were 
suspects in the suicide bombing when he gave them rides.

"Yes, while working for Israeli intelligence, I posed as a terrorist," he 
wrote. "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." Israel has 
not commented on Yousef's claims, though members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs 
and Defense Committee wrote him this month to thank him and recognize his work 
for Shin Bet.

His attorney, Steven Seick, said Shin Bet will not have a representative 
address the immigration judge but that the now-retired officer who recruited 
and supervised him, Gonen Ben-Itzhak, is expected to testify.

Ben-Itzhak wrote that hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians owe their lives to 
Yousef for preventing violence. The officer is identified only by a pseudonym, 
Loai, in court documents.

The government does not plan to call witnesses, Seick said.

Yousef's attorney wanted an FBI agent to support Yousef's claim that he gave 
information about Hamas and terrorism.

The FBI refused but said it would not object if Yousef testifies he met twice 
with agency personnel.

The US government considers Hamas a terrorist organization. Hamas says it 
provides schools and other social benefits to residents in the areas it 
controls.

In his book, Yousef describes growing up admiring Hamas and hating Israel, 
leading him to buy a couple machine guns and a handgun in 1996. He said the 
guns didn't work and that he was arrested by Israeli forces before he killed 
anyone.

Yousef says he started working with Shin Bet after witnessing Hamas brutalities 
in prison that left him disillusioned. He gravitated toward Christianity after 
his release in 1997, joining a Christian study group after a chance encounter 
with a British tourist at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.

Yousef says he joined his father, Sheik Hassan Yousef, at many meetings with 
Palestinian leaders and reported them to Shin Bet. His father, a senior Hamas 
leader who is serving a six-year sentence in an Israeli prison, disowned him in 
March.


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