We’ve reported before about Mossad Hassan Yousef, son of Hamas founding member Sheikh Hassan Yousef. The younger Yousef converted to Christianity, worked undercover to stop terrorist attacks against Israel, and wrote a book about his experience. He has been living in California for the last few years and his application for asylum was recently rejected because he supposedly provided “material support” to Hamas, a designated terrorist organization. Mr. Yousef claims any “support” he provided was done in the course of learning about the organization in order to prevent terrorist attacks. His case is currently before an Immigration Judge, who will review his claim for asylum de novo.
Now, in an unprecedented move, a former Shin Bet (Israeli security) agent has come forward to verify Mr. Yousef’s claim. The Jewish Journal reports that Gonen Ben-Yitzhak confirmed that Mr. Yousef provided information that “prevent[ed] attacks that saved countless Israeli and Arab lives.” Mr. Ben-Yitzak will testify at Mr. Yousef’s upcoming asylum hearing.
It is illegal for a former Shin Bet agent to publicly reveal his name, and Mr. Ben-Yitzak faces potential legal trouble in Israel when he returns:
“It’s my country, my land. I love the Shin Bet, and I love Israel. But I have to help my friend,” he said of the San Diego hearing. “This is my duty — to stand with him and say the truth. It’s something I need to do. He always stood beside me. In the harshest days of the second intifadah, I called and asked about his opinion because his understanding about Hamas is unbelievable.”
The two men received awards at a dinner sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth, a pro-Israel organization. Other muckety-mucks at the dinner included Senator Sam Brownback, Congressman Brad Sherman, and Congressman Doug Lamborn. The event was held at the U.S. Senate, leading Mr. Yousef to joke, “How did security let a terrorist like me into this building?”
Mr. Yousef’s asylum hearing is scheduled for next week. There seems little doubt that he has a well-founded fear of persecution in the Palestinian territory–not just for his efforts against Hamas, but also for his apostasy (he has publicly referred to Islam as a religion of hate). The issue is whether his “support” for Hamas will disqualify him for asylum. Mr. Ben-Yitzak’s testimony should go a long way towards solving the “material support” problem. And even if the Immigration Judge determines that Mr. Yousef supported Hamas, he should still qualify for relief under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which would allow him to remain in the United States.
When asked about the U.S. government’s effort to deport Mr. Yousef, Mr. Ben-Yitzak, the former Shin Bet agent, said, “It’s hard for me to understand — very hard for me to understand.” Former CIA director James Woolsey was less diplomatic. “My view is that the decision to deny him political refugee status was incredibly idiotic,” Woolsey said. “It’s hard to think of a worse immigration decision in history. It’s fundamentally nuts.”