SAN DIEGO (BP)–Political asylum in the United States is “just the beginning” of a campaign to change the Middle East by changing the Islamist ideology that fans hatred and prevents peace, Mosab Hassan Yousef told a news conference after an immigration judge in California dismissed a deportation case against him.
In a June 30 hearing involving the 32-year-old son of a prominent Hamas leader on the West Bank, an attorney for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told Judge Rico Bartolomei the government was dropping its objections to Yousef’s request for asylum. Bartolomei then ruled Yousef will be allowed to remain in the United States after he passes a routine background check.
“This decision gives me a shelter, gives me a place to start,” Yousef said in a telephone news conference after the hearing that lasted only 15 minutes. “But our biggest victory will be when we start to see the new generation of the Middle East changing … when we are able to change the ideology that supports fanatics, fundamentalists and terrorists.”
An Islamic ideology of religious hatred stands in the way of peace in the Middle East, Yousef said.
“Instead of fighting Israel and looking for enemies in America and the West, I want them [Palestinians] to know that their enemy is among them,” Yousef said. “In many cases, they are the enemy of themselves.”
By focusing on hatred of Jews and the destruction of Israel, rather than building their own state, Palestinian leaders are destroying their own people, Yousef said. Palestinians “can be friends with Israel but the problem is they go back to the ideology of Islam,” he said. “They need to quit Islamicizing the Palestinian state.”
Yousef said he thought even the judge was surprised when the Homeland Security attorney announced that “developments” in the case had prompted the government to accept Yousef’s application for asylum. That application had been turned down in 2007 and the government recently announced plans to deport Yousef after his new book, “Son of Hamas,” detailed his actions as an Israeli agent inside the Hamas terror organization. Yousef’s supporters had expressed shock and outrage that the U.S. government would classify someone as a terror threat who had fought terrorism.
The week prior to the hearing, Yousef had spent three days in Washington, meeting with members of Congress and representatives of Jewish organizations in an effort to derail his deportation. The Endowment for Middle East Truth honored Yousef during a June 23 banquet that also recognized Amil Imani, Iranian co-founder of Former Muslims United. On June 24, Yousef met with congressional leaders, including members of the House and Senate Homeland Security committees. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R.-Colo., drafted a letter supporting Yousef that garnered the signatures of 22 legislative colleagues.
Regarding the June 30 hearing, Matt Smith of Barabbas Road, a San Diego-area Southern Baptist church that has befriended Yousef, told Baptist Press he felt the United States itself was on trial in its stance against Yousef.
“As I watched the proceedings begin, I sort of felt like — not to be melodramatic — it was America on trial,” Smith said. “The case was pretty cut and dried. It was going to be a matter of how we stack up as a nation. I walked in a little embarrassed for our country.”
When the government lawyer announced Yousef’s asylum application was being accepted, an audible gasp could be heard in the courtroom, Smith said.
“I think I said ‘Amen’ right there in the courtroom,” Smith said. “I am very proud of my nation. … This is a great day for the United States. We’re still a good country.
“This decision was 100 percent the power of prayer and God. God really showed His sovereignty today. Everyone was wondering, ‘How did that happen?'” Smith said. “Obviously, in the background God uses other things to ordain those events, but it was God and a praying faith that brought this about.”
Yousef said no solid evidence exists to prove rumors that a Muslim employee at the Department of Homeland Security was behind the deportation effort, but added that DHS needs to be careful in its hiring practices.
“This is the last place we want to have infiltrators,” Yousef said. “All the time we have terrorists, we have fanatics that are trying to infiltrate high positions in organizations like this, to take advantage. … There are Muslim enemies who pretend they are friends.”
Mark Kelly is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. Earlier Baptist Press stories on Yousef may be found at www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=33256, www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=33119, www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=32386 and www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=28663.