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‘Son of Hamas’ granted asylum in United States

SAN DIEGO (BP)–Mosab Hassan Yousef, the eldest son of a prominent Hamas leader on the West Bank and author of a globally circulated book recounting his conversion to Christianity, has been granted asylum in the United States by an immigration judge.

In a 15-minute hearing June 30, Judge Rico Bartolomei said Yousef will be allowed to remain in the United States after he is fingerprinted and passes a routine background check. An attorney for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told Bartolomei the government was dropping its objections to Yousef’s request for asylum.

The surprise decision came after a storm of public criticism over Homeland Security’s announced intention to deport Yousef back to his West Bank homeland — making him almost certain to be killed by Hamas, supporters said. His life also would be in danger for leaving Islam to follow Jesus Christ, they noted.

In his book, “Son of Hamas,” Yousef, 32, recounted that he worked as a secret agent for the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet for more than 10 years as a way of countering violence in the Mideast that he had come to regard as senseless. In a 2008 Baptist Press article, Yousef said he became disillusioned with Hamas’ lack of morality and integrity after he was incarcerated at age 18 for his leadership in a Hamas youth organization.

While working for Shin Bet, Yousef became a Christian and was secretly baptized in 2005 at a beach near Tel Aviv. He publicly announced his faith in Christ in 2008.

On June 27, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of Israel’s parliament sent a letter of thanks to Yousef for his decade of service as an intelligence source for the Shin Bet security service. The newspaper reported the letter said Yousef helped “improve the security of Israelis and Palestinians by guiding the Shin Bet to thwart terror attacks and the murder of innocent people, showing great courage, reliability and determination.” The letter also said the committee “found it particularly moving that although Yousef was raised in a home and in an environment steeped in the militant vision of Hamas he had found the strength to sanctify life and peace and to eschew violence, incitement and terror,” the newspaper reported.

According to Haaretz, Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado promised to intervene on Yousef’s behalf. Former CIA Director James Woolsey called him a “remarkable young man” who should be commended for “extraordinary heroism and courage,” the Associated Press reported.

In a May 2 post on his website, www. sonofhamas.wordpress.com, Yousef wrote that his greatest concern involves “the weaknesses of Homeland Security.” He asked: “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.”

A June 12 editorial in The Wall Street Journal echoed that thought, criticizing as “bizarre” the notion of deporting someone who had combated terrorism on the grounds that he was potentially “a danger to the security of the United States” and had “engaged in terrorist activity.”

“He’s probably near the top of every Islamist terror hit list, yet, incredibly enough, the U.S. may soon deport him as a terror threat,” the Journal said. “Under the Convention Against Torture, the U.S. has an international treaty obligation not to return people to countries where their lives would be at risk. That concern stopped the return to China of the Uighers at Guantanamo, and rightly so. It would dishonor the U.S. to deport a convert in the war on terror because our immigration bureaucracy is too obtuse to make even life and death distinctions.”

The editorial also wondered why, if Yousef is a significant threat to the security of the United States, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency did not detain him after he was denied political asylum in 2007.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly. For earlier Baptist Press stories on Yousef, go to www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=33119, www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=32386 and www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=28663.

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