Hamas scion turned Israel spy making film on Islam

Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:56pm EDT
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By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A Hamas leader's son who spied on the Palestinian Islamist movement for Israel, and then wrote about his exploits while in exile, has turned his sights on the religion of his father.

On a rare visit to Jerusalem, just a short car ride from the family that disowned him in the occupied West Bank, Mosab Hassan Yousef told journalists he was making a film about the Prophet Mohammad that would reveal his "real nature" to Muslims.

"This is time to free people from the absolute control of religion, by reasoning, by a better understanding," he told a news conference. It turned testy as he was challenged on his assertion that Islam was a "religion of war" compared to other major faiths, and his defense of contentious Israeli policies.

Yousef secretly converted to Christianity and helped the Shin Bet security service in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Hamas waged suicide bomb campaigns against Israel. He was codenamed "Green Prince" after the Islamist color and the fact that his father, Hassan Yousef, led Hamas in the West Bank.

Now 34, Yousef unmasked himself in a 2010 book, "Son of Hamas", and has been living in refuge in the United States.

He stayed in touch with his Shin Bet handler and makes no apologies for actions which, in the eyes of many Palestinians, make him a traitor and apostate deserving of death.

"Usually people are ashamed when they do something wrong. People love to live in the darkness ... I live in the light. I didn't do anything wrong by saving human life," he said in at the Jerusalem event hosted by Media Central, a pro-Israel press relations organization.

The Shin Bet declined comment, but two retired senior officers told Reuters that Yousef's account of his double life as a spy and trusted lieutenant to his father was largely true.   Continued...