Mosab Yousef is the son of a top Hamas leader who became a double agent for the Israelis, infiltrating Hamas, gathering intelligence and saving many lives in the process. His book is Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices. The following is his account of his most recent trials (with thanks to del):
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:
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.