The Gripping Story of Mosab, Son of founding Hamas leader, who became a Christian and Israel Envoy’s message to the UN will bring you to tears – By Rev George Ong (Dated 2 Nov 2023)
On 27 Oct 2023, Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Envoy to the UN, delivered a strong and powerful message.
You must never, I say again, you must never miss this message.
My wife and I wept with grief after listening to this message.
Truly, the evil and demonic realm of the atrocities and brutalities of the Hamas Terrorists (not the Palestinian people) are unveiled for the world to see.
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Envoy to the UN said;
“The October 7th Massacre and what ensued has nothing to do with the Palestinians, nothing.
Israel is at war with the Genocidal jihadist Hamas terror organisation only.
It is the law-abiding democracy of Israel against modern-day Nazis.
These are the facts.
Hamas do not care about the Palestinian people.
They do not care about peace or dialogue.
Hamas has only one goal to annihilate Israel and murder every single Jew on the face of the earth.
Their original charter makes this very clear.
Friends, on October 7th it became clear to the entire world that Hamas’ charter was not a compilation of empty words.
It was an action plan.
They brutally murdered civilians in their beds.
They drove pick-up trucks with machine guns, yes, you all remembered,
just like ISIS, and fired blindly at hundreds of young people at a concert.
There hundred were burned alive or butchered in that concert.
Much of what remained were clumps of flesh and bloody limbs.
Parents had to bring their Childrens’ toothbrushes for DNA so they could figure out whose limb belong to who.
These Hamas monsters raped women and children,
parading naked girls that they raped and body that they defiled through the streets and Gaza,
where thousands, I’m telling you, thousands, you can see the footage, jeered and cheered.
The savages tortured small babies.
Just like the Nazis, Hamas terrorists removed infants from their cribs, yes, we have it on video,
swung them repeatedly against the ground until their skulls became a pulp.
Children were murdered in front of their parents and parents in front of their children.
The brutal ISIS-like monsters abducted over 220 hostages from Israel and dozens of other countries,
including babies, children, persons with disabilities, the elderly and holocaust survivors.
Nine-month-old and he’s being held right now in Gaza as a hostage.
Nine-month-old, what barbaric terrorists can do such a thing.
And together with him, 30 other children.
We saw Hamas’ brutalities and I cannot begin to fathom what horrors the hostages are enduring right now.
Distinguished representatives, Hamas carried out atrocities, the likes of which we have not seen since the Holocaust.
Israel’s mission is to eradicate this evil from the earth. Eradicate.
ISIS was the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria and Hamas is the Islamic state of Gaza.
So, just as was done with ISIS, Hamas must be no more.
Our goal is to completely eradicate Hamas’ capabilities and we will use every means at our disposal to accomplish this.
Not for revenge, no. Not for retaliation, no.
But to ensure that such depravities, such atrocities never occur again.
Israel is at the forefront of the war in radical Jihadist terror.
And if Israel doesn’t succeed in obliterating Hamas’ terror capabilities, the whole world will pay the price.
Hamas’ genocidal ideology, just like ISIS, Al Qaeda or the Ayatollah regime of Iran is not just about destroying Israel.
You all know it. It is ultimately about world domination.
It is about bringing the Jihad war to the soil of each and every one of your countries.
They will not stop until they murder all of their infidels as they call us.”
For the full 30-minute video of the above,
Please click on the link below:
In 2015, 7 years ago, I bought this book, titled,
“Son of Hamas, A Gripping account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue and Unthinkable Choices.” (New York Times Best Seller) by Mosab Hassan Yousef.
As I was deciding which part of the book to be included as excerpts in this article, I had to read it again.
Throughout this undertaking, from start to finish, I couldn’t help but tears kept flowing uncontrollably down my eyes.
They were tears of rejoicing, knowing that even the son of founding Hamas leader could be saved by the grace of God.
And concomitantly, they were tears of hope that just as God can save the son of one of Hamas’ founders, he too can save even the most hardcore Jew, who has rejected Christ as the Messiah.
They were also tears of joy being overcome by the bond of love and radical commitment that existed between Mosab, a son Hamas and Gonen, a Jewish agent.
Reading the story may give you the impression that it is a script that is only real in movies – but friends, whether you believe it or not, this is a true story.
After reading excerpts of the book in this article (see below), you may wish to consider buying the book (it is my own initiative, no one asks me to do so, and I don’t earn a single cent).
But if time isn’t on your side to read the entire book, reading the excerpts that I have lifted from the book is an excellent alternative (see below).
There was an unusual high number of visits to my website and an overwhelming response to the article that was published on my website 3 days ago, on 30 Oct 2023:
If you have missed this article, please click on the link below:
(This article was also sent to Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) office, and for the attention of the Executive Committee Members.)
Note the 4 videos (sub-titling) on Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of founding Hamas leader
in his interviews by CNN, Fox News, Sky News and one other media agency
are placed at the tail end after this article.
Excerpts of the Book:
“Son of Hamas, A Gripping account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue and Unthinkable Choices.”
(New York Times Best Seller)
by Mosab Hassan Yousef:
“Before the age of twenty-one, I saw things no one should ever see: abject poverty, abuse of power, torture, and death.
I witnessed the behind-the-scenes dealings of top Middle Eastern leaders who make headlines around the world.
I was trusted at the highest levels of Hamas, and I participated in the so-called Intifada.
I was held captive in the bowels of Israel’s most feared prison facility.
And as you will see, I made choices that have made me a traitor in the eyes of people I love.
My unlikely journey has taken me through dark places and given me access to extraordinary secrets.
On the pages of this book, I finally reveal some of those long-hidden secrets, exposing events and processes that to this point have been known only by a handful of shadowy individuals.
The uncovering of these truths will likely send shock waves through parts of the Middle East, but I hope it will also bring comfort and closure to the families of many victims of this unending conflict.
… Hamas, on the other hand, Islamized the Palestinian problem, making it a religious problem.
And this problem could be resolved only with a religious solution, which meant that it could never be resolved because we believed that the land (of Palestine) belonged to Allah. Period. End of discussion.
Thus, for Hamas, the ultimate problem was not Israel’s policies. It was the nation-state Israel’s very existence.
… Among the seven ancient gates that offer access through the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, one is more ornate than all the others.
The Damascus Gate, constructed by Suleiman the Magnificent nearly five hundred years ago, is situated near the middle of the northern wall.
Significantly, it brings people into the Old City at the border where the historic Muslim Quarter meets the Christian Quarter.
In the first century, a man named Saul of Tarsus (Apostle Paul) passed through an earlier version of this gate on his way to Damascus, where he planned to lead a brutal suppression of a new Jewish sect he considered heretical.
The targets of this persecution would come to be called Christians.
A surprising encounter not only kept Saul (Apostle Paul) from reaching his destination, it also forever changed his life.
With all the history that permeates the atmosphere in this ancient spot,
maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised to have a life-changing encounter there myself.
Indeed, one day my best friend Jamal and I were walking past the Damascus Gate.
Suddenly I heard a voice directed toward me.
“What’s your name?”
a guy who looked to be about thirty asked in Arabic, though clearly, he was not an Arab.
“My name is Mosab.”
“Where are you going, Mosab?”
“We’re going home. We’re from Ramallah.”
“I’m from the United Kingdom,” he said, switching to English.
Though he continued speaking, his accent was so thick that I had trouble understanding him.
After a little back-and-forth, I figured out he was talking about something to do with Christianity and a study group that met at the YMCA by the King David Hotel in West Jerusalem.
I knew where it was.
I was a little bored at the time and thought it might actually be interesting to learn about Christianity.
If I could learn so much from the Israelis, maybe other “infidels” might have something valuable to teach me as well.
Besides, after hanging out with nominal Muslims, zealots, and atheists, the educated and the ignorant, right-wingers and left-wingers, Jews and Gentiles, I wasn’t picky anymore.
And this guy seemed like a simple man who was inviting me just to come and talk, not to vote for Jesus in the next election.
“What do you think?”
I asked Jamal.
“Should we go?”
… Now Jamal looked at me, and I could tell he wanted to go to the Bible study.
He was clearly just as curious—and bored—as I was.
But something inside him resisted.
“You go on without me,” he said.
“Call me when you get home.”
There were about fifty of us who met inside an old storefront that night, mostly students about my age of various ethnic and religious backgrounds.
A couple of people translated the English presentation into Arabic and Hebrew.
I called Jamal when I got home.
“How was it?” he asked.
“It was great,” I said.
“They gave me a New Testament written in both Arabic and English. New people, new culture; it was fun.”
“I don’t know about this, Mosab,” Jamal said.
“It could be dangerous for you if people discovered you were hanging out with a bunch of Christians.”
I knew Jamal meant well, but I wasn’t really very worried.
My father had always taught us to be open-minded and loving toward everyone, even those who didn’t believe as we did.
I looked down at the Bible in my lap.
My father had a huge library of five thousand books, including a Bible.
When I was a kid, I had read the sexual passages in the Song of Solomon, but never went any further.
This New Testament, however, was a gift.
Because gifts are honored and respected in Arab culture, I decided the least I could do was to read it.
I began at the beginning, and when I got to the Sermon on the Mount, I thought, Wow, this guy Jesus is really impressive!
Everything he says is beautiful.
I couldn’t put the book down.
Every verse seemed to touch a deep wound in my life.
It was a very simple message, but somehow it had the power to heal my soul and give me hope.
Then I read this:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-44).
I was thunderstruck by these words.
Never before had I heard anything like this, but I knew that this was the message I had been searching for all my life.
(George Ong’s interjection:
The Sermon on the Mount by the Lord Jesus was divinely used to penetrate into the soul of Mosab, the son of one of Hamas’ founders even though he wasn’t a believer yet.
Yet, Joseph Prince, the heretic, could bring himself to preach that the Sermon on the Mount wasn’t written for New Covenant believers but for another age.)
For years I had struggled to know who my enemy was, and I had looked for enemies outside of Islam and Palestine.
But I suddenly realized that the Israelis were not my enemies.
Neither was Hamas nor my uncle Ibrahim nor the kid who beat me with the butt of his M16 nor the apelike guard in the detention center.
I saw that enemies were not defined by nationality, religion, or color.
I understood that we all share the same common enemies: greed, pride, and all the bad ideas and the darkness of the devil that live inside us.
That meant I could love anyone.
The only real enemy was the enemy inside me.
Five years earlier, I would have read the words of Jesus and thought, What an idiot! and thrown away the Bible.
But my experiences with my crazy butcher neighbor, the family members and religious leaders who beat me when my father was in prison, and my own time at Megiddo
had all combined to prepare me for the power and beauty of this truth (Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:43-44).
All I could think in response was, Wow!
What wisdom this man had!
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1).
What a difference between him and Allah!
Islam’s god was very judgmental, and Arab society followed Allah’s lead.
Jesus rebuked the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees, and I thought of my uncle.
I remembered a time when he received an invitation to attend a special event and how angry he had been that he was not given the best seat.
It was as though Jesus was talking to Ibrahim and every sheikh and imam in Islam.
Everything Jesus said on the pages of this book made perfect sense to me.
Overwhelmed, I started to cry.
God used the Shin Bet (Internal security arm of the Israeli government) to show me that Israel was not my enemy,
and now he put the answers to the rest of my questions right in my hands in that little New Testament.
But I had a long way to go in my understanding of the Bible.
Muslims are taught to believe in all of God’s books, both the Torah and the Bible.
But we are also taught that men have changed the Bible, making it unreliable.
The Qur’an, Mohammad said, was God’s final and inerrant word to man.
So, I would first have to abandon my belief that the Bible had been altered.
Then I would have to figure out how to make both books work in my life, to somehow put Islam and Christianity together.
No small challenge—reconciling the irreconcilable.
At the same time, while I believed in the teachings of Jesus, I still did not connect him with being God.
Even so, my standards had changed suddenly and dramatically, because they were being influenced by the Bible instead of the Qur’an.
I continued to read my New Testament and go to the Bible study.
I attended church services and thought, this is not the religious Christianity I see in Ramallah.
This is real.
The Christians I had known before had been no different from traditional Muslims.
They claimed a religion, but they didn’t live it.
I began spending more time with people from the Bible study and found myself really enjoying their fellowship.
We had such a good time talking about our lives, our backgrounds, our beliefs.
They were always very respectful of my culture and my Muslim heritage.
And I found that I could really be myself when I was with them.
I ached to bring what I was learning into my own culture, because I realized that the occupation was not to blame for our suffering.
Our problem was much bigger than armies and politics.
I asked myself what Palestinians would do if Israel disappeared—if everything not only went back to the way it was before 1948 but if all the Jewish people abandoned the Holy Land and were scattered again.
And for the first time, I knew the answer.
We would still fight.
Over a girl without a head scarf.
Over who was toughest and most important.
Over who would make the rules and who would get the best seat.
It was the end of 1999.
I was twenty-one years old.
My life had begun to change, and the more I learned, the more confused I became.
“God, the Creator, show me the truth,”
I prayed day after day.
“I’m confused. I’m lost. And I don’t know which way to go.”
… Chapter Seventeen Undercover 2000–2001
What I am about to reveal has, until now, been unknown to all except a handful in Israeli intelligence.
I am disclosing this information in the hope that it will shed light on a number of significant events that have long been shrouded in mystery.
On the day of decision—the day I decided to do all I could to stop the madness—I began by learning everything I could about the activities and plans of Marwan Barghouti and the Hamas leaders.
I told everything I learned to the Shin Bet, which was doing all it could to find these leaders.
Within the Shin Bet, I had been assigned the code name the Green Prince.
Green reflected the color of the Hamas flag, and prince was an obvious reference to the position of my father—a king within Hamas.
Thus, at the age of twenty-two, I became the Shin Bet’s only Hamas insider who could infiltrate Hamas’s military and political wings, as well as other Palestinian factions.
But this responsibility was not all on my shoulders.
It was clear to me by now that God had specifically placed me at the core of both Hamas and Palestinian leadership, in Yasser Arafat’s meetings, and with the Israeli security service for a reason.
I was in a unique position to do the job.
And I could feel that God was with me.
I wanted to go deep, to know everything that was going on.
I had been in the center of the First Intifada, surrounded by violence.
The dead had filled to capacity a cemetery in which I had played soccer as a child.
I threw stones.
I violated curfew.
But I didn’t understand why our people pursued violence.
Now I wanted to know why we were doing it all over again.
I needed to understand.
From Yasser Arafat’s perspective, the uprising seemed to be all about politics, money, and holding on to power.
He was a grand manipulator, the Palestinian puppet master.
On camera, he condemned Hamas for its attacks against civilians inside Israel.
Hamas did not represent the PA or the Palestinian people, he insisted.
But he did little to interfere, content to let Hamas do his dirty work and take the heat from the international community.
He had become a sly old politician who knew that Israel could not stop the attacks without partnering with the PA.
And the more attacks there were, the sooner Israel would come to the bargaining table.
… In the midst of all this—especially with the big checks flowing from Iraq’s ruthless dictator, Saddam Hussein—Hamas found it had lost its monopoly on suicide bombing.
Now the bombers also came from Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the secularists, the communists, and the atheists.
And they all competed with one another to see who could kill the most Israeli civilians.
There was too much blood.
I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat.
I didn’t see it just through the eyes of a Muslim or a Palestinian or even as the son of Hassan Yousef anymore.
Now I saw it through Israeli eyes too.
And even more importantly, I watched the mindless killing through the eyes of Jesus, who agonized for those who were lost.
The more I read the Bible, the more clearly I saw this single truth: Loving and forgiving one’s enemies is the only real way to stop the bloodshed.
But as much as I admired Jesus, I didn’t believe my Christian friends when they tried to convince me that he was God.
Allah was my god.
But whether I realized it fully or not, I was gradually adopting the standards of Jesus and rejecting those of Allah.
Accelerating my departure from Islam was the hypocrisy I saw all around me.
Islam taught that a devoted servant of Allah who became a martyr went straight to heaven.
No questioning by weird angels or torture in the grave.
But suddenly it seemed that anyone killed by the Israelis—whether a nominal Muslim, a communist, even an atheist—was being treated as a holy martyr.
The imams and the sheikhs told the families of the dead,
“Your loved one is in heaven.”
Of course, the Qur’an didn’t support their rhetoric.
The Qur’an is clear about who goes to heaven and who goes to hell.
But these leaders didn’t seem to care.
This wasn’t even about truth or theology; it was about lying to people for strategic advantage and political expediency.
It was about Islamic leaders drugging their people with lies to make them forget the pain those leaders were causing them.
… On Tuesday, July 31, after a tip from a collaborator, a pair of Apache helicopter gunships approached Mansour’s media offices in Nablus.
They fired three laser-guided missiles through the window of his second-floor office.
Mansour, Hamas leader Jamal Salim, and six other Palestinians were incinerated by the blasts.
Two of the victims were children, aged eight and ten, who had been waiting to see the doctor on the floor below.
Both were crushed beneath the rubble. This seemed crazy.
I called Loai (Mosab’s agent handler from Shin Bet).
“What in the world is going on? Are you sure those guys were involved in suicide bombings? I know they supported the attacks, but they were in the political wing of Hamas with my father, not the military wing.”
“Yes. We have intelligence that Mansour and Salim were directly involved in the Dolphinarium massacre. They have blood on their hands. We had to do this.”
What could I do? Argue with him?
Tell him he didn’t have the right information?
It suddenly dawned on me that the Israeli government must also be determined to assassinate my father.
Even if he hadn’t organized the suicide bombings, he was still guilty by association.
Besides, he had information that could have saved lives, and he withheld it.
He had influence, but he didn’t use it.
He could have tried to stop the killing, but he didn’t.
He supported the movement and encouraged its members to continue their opposition until the Israelis were forced to withdraw.
In the eyes of the Israeli government, he, too, was a terrorist.
With all my Bible reading, I was now comparing my father’s actions with the teachings of Jesus, not those found in the Qur’an.
He was looking less and less like a hero to me, and it broke my heart.
I wanted to tell him what I was learning, but I knew he would not listen.
And if those in Jerusalem had their way, my father would never get the opportunity to see how Islam had led him down the wrong path.
…In my spare time, I continued to hang out with my Christian friends to talk about the love of Jesus.
Actually, it was a lot more than talk.
Even though I was still just a follower of the Teacher, I felt as if I was experiencing God’s love and protection every day, and it seemed to be extending to the members of my family as well.
… I could not explain away the sense of supernatural protection and intervention.
It was real to me.
When Ahmad al-Faransi (who had once asked me for explosives to give to his suicide bombers) called me from the middle of Ramallah and asked if I could pick him up and drive him home, I told him I was in the area and would be there in a few minutes.
When I arrived, he climbed into the car, and we started driving.
We had not gone far when al-Faransi’s cell phone rang.
Al-Faransi was on Jerusalem’s assassination list, and Arafat’s headquarters was calling to warn him that Israeli helicopters had been following him.
I opened the window and heard two Apaches closing in.
Though it may seem strange to those who have not sensed God speaking to them in an internal voice, on this day I heard God speak to my heart, instructing me to turn left between two buildings.
I later learned that had I continued to go straight, the Israelis would have had a clean shot at my car.
I turned the car and instantly heard that divine voice say, Get out of the car and leave it.
We jumped out and ran.
By the time the helicopter reacquired its target, the only thing its pilot could see was a parked car and two open doors.
It hovered for about sixty seconds and then turned and flew away.
I learned later that intelligence had received a message that al-Faransi had been spotted getting into a dark blue Audi A4.
There were many just like it in town.
Loai wasn’t in the operations room at the time to check my location, and no one knew to ask whether this Audi might belong to the Green Prince.
Few members of the Shin Bet even knew of my existence.
Somehow, I seemed to always benefit from divine protection.
I wasn’t even a Christian yet, and al-Faransi certainly didn’t know the Lord.
My Christian friends were praying for me every day, however.
And God, Jesus said in Matthew 5:45,
“causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
This was certainly a far cry from the cruel and vengeful god of the Qur’an.
… When I saw the interrogators, even those who had tortured me during my previous stay, I was surprised to discover that I felt no bitterness whatsoever toward these men.
The only way I could explain it was using a verse I had read:
Hebrews 4:12 says that
“the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
I had read and pondered these words many times, as well as Jesus’ commands to forgive your enemies and love those who mistreat you.
Somehow, even though I was still unable to accept Jesus Christ as God, his words seemed to be alive and active and working inside me.
I don’t know how else I would have been able to see people as people, not Jew or Arab, prisoner or torturer.
Even the old hatred that had driven me to buy guns and to plot the deaths of Israelis was being displaced by a love I didn’t understand.
… My beard grew long and thick like everyone else’s.
And I joined the other prisoners in the daily routine.
When prayer times came, I bowed and knelt and prayed, but no longer to Allah.
I prayed now to the Creator of the universe. I was getting closer.
One day, I even found an Arabic-language Bible stashed in the world religion section of the library (of the prison).
It was the whole thing, not just the New Testament.
No one had ever touched it.
I’ll bet no one even knew it was there.
What a gift from God!
I read it again and again.
Every now and then, somebody would come over to me and gently try to find out what I was doing.
I explained that I studied history and that since the Bible was an ancient book, it contained some of the earliest information available.
Not only that, but the values it teaches are also great, I said, and I believed that every Muslim ought to read it.
People were usually okay with that.
The only time they got a little sore was during Ramadan, when it seemed I was studying the Bible more than the Qur’an.
The Bible study I had attended in West Jerusalem was open to everybody —Christian, Muslim, Jew, atheist, whatever.
Through this group, I had had opportunities to sit down with Jewish people who came with the same purpose as I did: to study Christianity and learn about Jesus.
It was a unique experience for me as a Palestinian Muslim to study Jesus with an Israeli Jew.
Through this group, I had gotten to know a Jewish man named Amnon pretty well.
He was married and had two beautiful children.
He was very smart and spoke several languages.
His wife was a Christian and had encouraged him for a long time to be baptized.
Finally, Amnon decided to do it, so the group gathered one evening to witness his baptism in the pastor’s bathtub.
By the time I arrived, Amnon had finished reading some Bible verses and had begun to cry very hard.
He knew that when he allowed himself to be lowered under the water, he was not only declaring his allegiance to Jesus Christ through the identification with his death and resurrection, he was also divorcing his culture.
He was turning his back on the faith of his father, a professor at Hebrew University.
He was abandoning Israeli society and religious traditions, destroying his reputation, and jeopardizing his future.
… While I was there (prison), I also experienced two prison uprisings, far worse than the one we had at Megiddo.
But God got me through it all.
In fact, I experienced God’s presence more strongly in that prison than any time before or since.
I may not have known Jesus as the Creator yet, but I was certainly learning to love God the Father.
… Winter 2003–Spring 2006
It was easy to know where Saleh and his friends had been.
The blood they left in their wake was unmistakable.
But until now, nobody had been able to catch up to them.
That the Shin Bet had found him broke my heart.
Saleh was my friend.
He had helped me with my studies.
I had shared bread with him and his wife, and I had played with his children.
But Saleh was also a terrorist.
During his imprisonment by the Palestinian Authority, he had continued his studies through Al-Quds Open University and used what he learned to become such a great bomb maker that he could even make explosives from garbage.
After Saleh’s release by the PA, the Shin Bet watched to see how much time it would take him and his friends to rebuild the Al-Qassam Brigades.
It didn’t take long at all.
The rebuilt organization wasn’t big, but it was deadly.
Maher Odeh was the brains of the operation; Saleh, the engineer; and Bilal Barghouti, the recruiter of suicide bombers.
In fact, the Hamas military wing consisted of only about ten people who operated independently, had their own budgets, and never met together unless it was urgent.
Saleh could turn out several explosive belts overnight, and Bilal had a waiting list of candidates for martyrdom.
If I had believed Saleh was innocent, I would have warned him about what was going to happen.
But when we finally connected the dots, I realized that he had been behind the Hebrew University bombing and many others.
I understood that he needed to be locked away in prison.
The only thing I might have done was introduce him to the teachings of Jesus and urge him to follow them as I did.
But I knew he was too blinded by rage, zeal, and commitment to have listened, even to an old friend.
I could, however, beg the Shin Bet to arrest Saleh and the others rather than kill them.
And very reluctantly, they agreed.
Israeli security agents had been monitoring Saleh for more than two months.
They watched him leave his apartment to meet in an abandoned house with Hasaneen Rummanah.
And they watched him return home, where he remained for a week or so.
They saw that his friend Sayyed al-Sheikh Qassem went out more frequently, but he always did what he had to do and came right back.
The caution of the fugitives was impressive.
No wonder it had taken us so long to find them.
Once we picked up their scent, however, it was just a matter of tracking their contacts and contacts of contacts—about forty or fifty in all.
We had a lock on three of the guys on our most-wanted list, but for Ibrahim Hamed and Maher Odeh, we had only clues, nothing concrete.
We had to decide whether to wait until the clues led us to them, which was a long shot, or break the spine of the Al-Qassam Brigades in the West Bank by arresting those we had already located.
We decided on the latter, figuring we might even get lucky and snag Hamed or Odeh when we hauled in our net.
On the night of December 1, 2003, special forces surrounded more than fifty suspected locations at one time.
Every troop available had been called in from all over the West Bank.
The Hamas leaders were holed up at the Al-Kiswani building in Ramallah, and they did not respond when they were asked to surrender.
Saleh and Sayyed had a lot of weaponry, including a heavy machine gun, the type usually found welded to military vehicles.
The standoff began at 10 p.m. and continued through the night.
When the shooting started, I could hear it from my house.
Then the unmistakable explosion of a Merkava cannon shattered the morning, and everything was quiet.
At 6 a.m., my phone rang.
“Your friend is gone,” Loai told me. “I’m so sorry. You know we would have spared him if we could have. But let me tell you something. If this man—”
Loai’s voice broke as he tried to continue—
“if this man had grown up in a different environment, he would not have been the same. He would have been just like us. He thought, he really believed, he was doing something good for his people. He was just so wrong.”
Loai knew I had loved Saleh and didn’t want him to die.
He knew Saleh was resisting something he believed to be evil and hurtful to his people.
And maybe, somehow, Loai had come to care about Saleh too.
“Are they all dead?”
“I haven’t seen the bodies yet. They took them to Ramallah Hospital. We need you to go there and identify them. You’re the only one who knew them all.”
I grabbed a coat and drove over to the hospital, desperately hoping that maybe it wasn’t Saleh, maybe somebody else had been killed.
When I arrived, it was chaos.
Angry Hamas activists were shouting in the street, and police were everywhere.
No one was allowed inside, but because everybody knew who I was, the hospital officials let me in.
A medical worker led me down a hallway to a room lined with large coolers.
He opened the refrigerator door and slowly pulled out a drawer, releasing the stench of death into the room.
I looked down and saw Saleh’s face.
He was almost smiling.
But his head was empty.
Sayyed’s drawer contained a collection of body parts—legs, head, whatever—in a black plastic bag.
Hasaneen Rummanah had been ripped in half.
I wasn’t even sure it was him because the face was shaved and Hasaneen had always worn a soft brown beard.
Despite media reports to the contrary, Ibrahim Hamed was not with the others.
The man who had ordered these men to fight to the death had run away to save himself.
With virtually all of the West Bank Hamas leaders dead or in prison, I became the contact for the leaders in Gaza and Damascus.
Somehow, I had become a key contact for the entire Palestinian network of parties, sects, organizations, and cells—including terrorist cells.
And no one but a handful of elite Shin Bet insiders knew who or what I really was.
It was astonishing to think about.
… Since I had begun my spiritual odyssey, I’d had some interesting conversations with my Shin Bet friends about Jesus and my developing beliefs.
“Believe whatever you want,” they said. “You can share it with us. But don’t share it with anyone else. And don’t ever get baptized, because that would make a very public statement. If anybody found out you became a Christian and turned your back on your Islamic beliefs, you could be in big trouble.”
I don’t think they were as worried about my future as they were about theirs if they lost me.
But God was changing my life too much for me to hold back anymore.
One day, my friend Jamal was cooking dinner for me.
“Mosab,” he said, “I have a surprise for you.”
He flipped the channel and said with a gleam in his eye,
“Check out this TV program on Al-Hayat. It might interest you.”
I found myself looking into the eyes of an old Coptic priest named Zakaria Botros.
He looked kind and gentle and had a warm, compelling voice.
I liked him—until I realized what he was saying.
He was systematically performing an autopsy on the Qur’an, opening it up and exposing every bone, muscle, sinew, and organ, and then putting them under the microscope of truth and showing the entire book to be cancerous.
Factual and historical inaccuracies, contradictions—he revealed them precisely and respectfully but firmly and with conviction.
(George Ong’s comments:
I viewed the sermons of this anointed preacher too about 7 years ago, and it was penetrating and revelatory, especially to the Muslims.)
My first instinct was to lash out and turn the television off.
But that lasted only seconds before I recognized that this was God’s answer to my prayers.
Father Zakaria was cutting away all the dead pieces of Allah that still linked me to Islam and blinded me to the truth that Jesus is indeed the Son of God.
Until that happened, I could not move ahead in following him.
But it was not an easy transition.
Just try to imagine the pain of waking up one day to discover that your dad is not really your father.
I cannot tell you the exact day and the hour that I “became a Christian” because it was a six-year process.
But I knew that I was, and I knew I needed to be baptized, no matter what the Shin Bet said.
About that time, a group of American Christians came to Israel to tour the Holy Land and to visit their sister church, the one I was attending.
Over time, I became good friends with one of the girls in the group.
I enjoyed talking with her, and I trusted her immediately.
When I shared a bit of my spiritual story with her, she was very encouraging, reminding me that God often uses the most surprising people to do his work.
That was certainly true in my life.
One evening as we were having dinner at the American Colony Restaurant in East Jerusalem, my friend asked me why I had not yet been baptized.
I couldn’t tell her that it was because I was an agent for the Shin Bet and involved up to my eyebrows with every political and security activity in the region.
But it was a valid question, one I had asked myself many times.
“Can you baptize me?” I asked.
She said she could.
“Can you keep it a secret between us?”
She said she would, adding,
“The beach is not too far away. Let’s go now.”
“Are you serious?”
“Sure, why not?”
“Okay, why not?”
I was a little giddy when we boarded the shuttle to Tel Aviv.
Had I forgotten who I was?
Was I really putting my trust in this girl from San Diego?
Forty-five minutes later, we were walking along the crowded beach, drinking in the sweet, warm evening air.
No one in the crowd could have known that the son of the leader of Hamas—the terrorist group responsible for slaughtering twenty-one kids at the Dolphinarium just up the road—was about to be baptized as a Christian.
I stripped off my shirt, and we walked into the sea.
“What’s going on?”
my father asked when he found me crying.
When I didn’t say anything, he suggested we cook dinner together for my mother and sisters.
My father and I had grown so close over the years, and he understood that sometimes I simply needed to work through things on my own.
But as I prepared the meal with him, knowing that these were the last hours we would have together for a long time, my heart broke.
I decided not to let him go through the arrest alone.
After dinner, I called Loai.
“All right,” I told him. “I will go back to prison.”
It was September 25, 2005.
I hiked to my favorite spot in the hills outside Ramallah where I often went to spend time praying and reading my Bible.
I prayed more, wept more, and asked the Lord for his mercy on me and my family.
When I got home, I sat down and waited.
My father, blissfully unaware of what was about to happen, had already gone to bed.
A little after midnight, the security forces arrived.
They took us to Ofer Prison, where we were herded into a big hall with hundreds of others who had been picked up in a citywide sweep.
This time, they also arrested my brothers Oways and Mohammad.
Loai told me secretly that they were suspects in a murder case.
One of their schoolmates had kidnapped, tortured, and killed an Israeli settler, and the Shin Bet had intercepted a call the killer made to Oways the day before.
Mohammad would be released a few days later.
Oways would serve four months in prison before being cleared of any involvement in the crime.
We sat on our knees in that hall for ten hours with our hands cuffed behind us.
I thanked God silently when someone gave my father a chair, and I saw that he was being treated with respect.
I was sentenced to three months in administrative detention.
My Christian friends sent me a Bible, and I served my sentence, studying Scripture and going through the motions.
I was released on Christmas Day 2005.
My father was not.
As I write this, he is still in prison.
… I called some people I knew in California and told them I was coming.
Of course, they had no idea I was the son of a top Hamas leader and a spy for the Shin Bet.
But they were very excited.
I packed a few clothes in a small suitcase and went downstairs to tell my mother.
She was already in bed.
I knelt by her side and explained that I would be leaving in a few hours, crossing the border into Jordan and flying to the United States.
Even then, I could not explain why.
Her eyes said it all.
Your father is in prison.
You are like a father to your brothers and sisters.
What will you do in America?
I knew she didn’t want to see me go, but at the same time, she wanted me to be at peace.
She said she hoped I would be able to make a life for myself there after being in so much danger at home.
She had no idea just how much danger I had seen.
“Let me kiss you good-bye,” she said. “Wake me in the morning before you go.”
She blessed me, and I told her I would be leaving very early and she didn’t need to get up to see me off.
But she was my mother.
She waited up with me all night in our living room, along with my brothers and sisters and my friend Jamal.
While I was putting all my belongings together before my flight, I was about to pack my Bible—the one with all my notes, the one I had studied for years, even in prison—but then I sensed a prompting to give it to Jamal.
“I don’t have a more expensive gift to give you before I leave,” I told him. “Here is my Bible. Read it and follow it.”
I was sure he would honor my wishes and probably would read it whenever he thought of me.
I made sure I had enough cash to last me for a while, left the house, and went to the Allenby Bridge that connects Israel with Jordan.
Getting through the Israeli checkpoint was no problem.
I paid the thirty-five-dollar exit tax and entered the huge immigration terminal with its metal detectors, X-ray machines, and the infamous Room 13 where suspects were interrogated.
But these devices, along with strip searches, were mostly for those coming into Israel from the Jordanian side—not for those leaving.
The terminal was a beehive of people in shorts and fanny packs, yarmulkes and Arab headdresses, veils and ball caps, some wearing backpacks and others pushing hand trolleys stacked with luggage.
Finally, I boarded one of the big JETT buses—the only public transportation permitted on the concrete truss bridge.
Okay, I thought, it’s almost over.
But I was still a little paranoid.
The Shin Bet simply did not let people like me leave the country.
It was unheard of.
Even Loai had been amazed that I’d gotten permission.
When I reached the Jordanian side, I presented my passport.
I was concerned because while three years remained on my US visa, my passport was due to expire in fewer than thirty days.
Please, I prayed, just let me into Jordan for one day.
That’s all I need.
But all my worrying was for nothing.
There was no problem at all.
I grabbed a taxi into Amman and bought a ticket on Air France.
I checked into a hotel for a few hours, then went to Queen Alia International Airport and boarded my flight to California via Paris.
As I sat on the plane, I thought about what I had just left behind, both good and bad—my family and friends as well as the endless bloodshed, waste, and futility.
It took a while to get used to the idea of being really free—free to be myself, free of clandestine meetings and Israeli prisons, free from always looking over my shoulder. It was weird. And wonderful.”
In July 2008, I sat in a restaurant having dinner with my good friend Avi Issacharoff, a journalist with Haaretz newspaper in Israel.
I told him my story of becoming a Christian because I wanted the news to come from Israel, not from the West.
It appeared in his newspaper under the headline “Prodigal Son.”
As is the case with many followers of Jesus, my public declaration of faith broke the hearts of my mother and father, brothers, sisters, and friends.
My friend Jamal was one of the few people who stood by my family in their shame and cried with them.
Terribly lonely after I left, Jamal met a beautiful young woman, got engaged, and was married two weeks after the Haaretz article appeared.
Attending his wedding, my family couldn’t hold back their tears because Jamal’s wedding reminded them of me, how I had destroyed my future, and how I would never marry and have a Muslim family.
Seeing their sadness, even the new bridegroom started to cry.
Most of the other people in the wedding cried, too, but I’m sure it was for a different reason.
“Couldn’t you wait to make your announcement until two weeks after I got married?”
Jamal asked me in a phone conversation later.
“You made the best thing in my life a disaster.”
I felt awful.
Thankfully, Jamal remains my best friend.
My father received the news in his prison cell.
He woke up to learn that his oldest son had converted to Christianity.
From his perspective, I had destroyed my own future and his family’s future.
He believes that one day I will be taken to hell before his eyes, and then we will be estranged forever.
He cried like a baby and would not leave his cell.
Prisoners from every faction came to him.
“We are all your sons, Abu Mosab,” they told him. “Please calm down.”
He could not confirm the news reports.
But a week later, my seventeen-year-old sister, Anhar, who was the only family member allowed to visit him, came to the prison.
Immediately, he could see in her eyes that it was all true.
And he couldn’t control himself.
Other prisoners left their visiting families to come and kiss his head and weep with him.
He tried to catch his breath to apologize to them, but he only wept harder.
Even the Israeli guards, who respected my father, cried.
I sent him a six-page letter.
I told him how important it was for him to discover the real nature of the God he has always loved but never known.
My uncles waited anxiously for my father to disown me.
When he refused, they turned their backs on his wife and children.
But my father knew that if he disowned me, Hamas terrorists would kill me.
And he kept his covering over me, no matter how deeply I had wounded him.
Eight weeks later, the men at Ktzi’ot Prison in the Negev threatened to riot.
So Shabas, the Israel Prison Service, asked my father to do what he could to defuse the situation.
One day my mother, who had been in weekly contact since my arrival in America, called me.
“Your father is in the Negev. Some of the prisoners have smuggled in cell phones. Would you like to talk to him?”
I couldn’t believe it.
I didn’t think I would get a chance to talk to my dad until he was released from prison.
I called the number.
No one answered.
I called again. “Alo!” His voice.
I could barely speak.
“I miss your voice.”
“How are you?”
“I am good. It doesn’t matter how I am. How are you?”
“I am okay. We came here to talk to prisoners and try to calm the situation down.”
He was the same.
His chief concern was always for the people.
And he always would be the same.
“How is your life in the USA now?”
“My life is great. I am writing a book…”
Every prisoner was given only ten minutes, and my father would never use his position to get special treatment.
I wanted to discuss my new life with him, but he didn’t want to talk about it.
“No matter what happened,” he told me, “you are still my son. You are part of me, and nothing will change. You have a different opinion, but you still are my little child.”
I was shocked.
This man was unbelievable.
I called again the next day.
He was sick at heart, but he was listening.
“I have a secret I need to tell you,” I said. “I want to tell you now, so you don’t hear it from the media.”
I explained that I had worked for the Shin Bet for ten years.
That he was still alive today because I had agreed to have him put into prison for his protection.
That his name was at the top of Jerusalem’s assassination list— and that he was still in prison because I was no longer there to ensure his safety.
My dad said nothing.
“I love you,” I said finally. “You will always be my father.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: On March 1, 2010, one day before this book’s release, Mosab’s father disowned him.
The sheikh released a letter saying that his family had renounced “the one who was once our eldest son, who is called Mosab” (Associated Press, March 3, 2010).
Despite the loss of his family and the risk to his life, Mosab continues to speak out with his message of loving your enemies.
It is my greatest hope that, in telling my own story, I will show my own people—Palestinian followers of Islam who have been used by corrupt regimes for hundreds of years—that the truth can set them free.
I tell my story as well to let the Israeli people know that there is hope.
If I, the son of a terrorist organization dedicated to the extinction of Israel, can reach a point where I not only learned to love the Jewish people but risked my life for them, there is a light of hope.
My story holds a message for Christians too.
We must learn from the sorrows of my people, who carry a heavy burden trying to work their way into God’s favor.
We have to get beyond the religious rules we make for ourselves.
Instead, we must love people—on all sides of the world— unconditionally.
If we are going to represent Jesus to the world, we have to live his message of love.
If we want to follow Jesus, we must also expect to be persecuted.
We should be happy to be persecuted for his sake.
To Middle East experts, government decision makers, scholars, and leaders of intelligence agencies, I write with the hope that a simple story will contribute to your understanding of the problems and potential solutions in one of the most troubled regions of the world.
I offer my story knowing that many people, including those I care about most, will not understand my motives or my thinking.
Some people will accuse me of doing what I have done for the sake of money.
The irony is that I had no problem getting money in my previous life but am living practically hand to mouth now.
While it is true that my family struggled financially, especially during the long stretches when my father was in prison, I eventually became a fairly rich young man.
With my government-provided salary, I made ten times the average income in my country.
I had a good life, with two houses and a new sports car.
And I could have made even more.
When I told the Israelis that I was done working for them, they offered to set me up in my own communications business that would earn me millions of dollars if I would only stay.
I said no to that offer and came to the United States, where I haven’t been able to find a full-time job and ended up practically homeless.
I hope that someday money won’t be a problem for me anymore, but I’ve learned that money alone will never satisfy me.
If money was my main goal, I could have stayed where I was and kept working for Israel.
I could have accepted the donations that people have offered me since I moved to the States.
But I haven’t done either because I don’t want to make money my priority—or give the impression that it is what drives me.
Some people may think I’m doing this for the attention, but I had plenty of that back in my own country too.
What was much harder to give up was the power and authority I had as the son of a top Hamas leader.
Having tasted power, I know how addictive it can be—much more addictive than money.
I liked the power I had in my former life, but when you’re addicted, even to power, you are controlled more than you control.
Freedom, a deep longing for freedom, is really at the heart of my story.
I am the son of a people who have been enslaved by corrupt systems for many centuries.
I was a prisoner of the Israelis when my eyes were opened to the fact that the Palestinian people were as oppressed by their own leaders as they were by Israel.
I was a devout follower of a religion that required strict adherence to rigid regulations in order to please the god of the Qur’an and get into heaven.
I had money, power, and position in my former life, but what I really wanted was freedom.
And that meant, among other things, leaving behind hate, prejudice, and a desire for revenge.
The message of Jesus—love your enemies—is what finally set me free.
It no longer mattered who my friends were or who my enemies were; I was supposed to love them all.
And I could have a loving relationship with a God who would help me love others.
Having that kind of relationship with God is not only the source of my freedom but also the key to my new life.
After reading this book, please do not think that I have become some kind of super follower of Jesus.
I’m still struggling.
The little I know and understand about my faith came from Bible studies and reading.
In other words, I am a follower of Jesus Christ but am only beginning to become a disciple.
I was born and raised in a religious environment that insisted salvation was all about works.
I have a lot to unlearn to make room for the truth:
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. —Ephesians 4:22-24
Like many other followers of Christ, I have repented of my sins, and I know that Jesus is the Son of God who became a man, died for our sins, rose from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
I have been baptized.
Yet I feel that I am barely inside the gate of the Kingdom of God.
I have been told that there is much, much more.
And I want it all.
In the meantime, I still struggle with the world, the flesh, and the devil.
I still have misconceptions and confusion.
I wrestle with what sometimes seem like invincible issues.
Yet I have hope that I, like the apostle Paul who described himself to Timothy as “the worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:16), will become whatever God wants me to be, as long as I don’t give up.
So if you meet me in the street, please don’t ask me for advice or what I think this or that Scripture verse means, because you’re probably already way ahead of me.
Instead of looking at me as a spiritual trophy, pray for me, that I will grow in my faith and that I won’t step on too many toes as I learn to dance with the Bridegroom.
As long as we continue to search for enemies anywhere but inside ourselves, there will always be a Middle East problem.
Religion is not the solution.
Religion without Jesus is just self-righteousness.
Freedom from oppression will not resolve things either.
Delivered from the oppression of Europe, Israel became the oppressor.
Delivered from persecution, Muslims became persecutors.
Abused spouses and children often go on to abuse spouses and children.
It is a cliché, but it’s still true: hurt people, unless they are healed, hurt people.
Manipulated by lies and driven by racism, hatred, and revenge, I was on my way to being one of those people.
Then in 1999, I encountered the only true God.
He is the Father whose love is beyond expression, yet shown in the sacrifice of his only Son on a cross to atone for the world’s sins.
He is the God who, three days later, demonstrated his power and righteousness by raising Jesus from the dead.
He is the God who not only commands me to love and forgive my enemies as he has loved and forgiven me but empowers me to do so.
Truth and forgiveness are the only solution for the Middle East.
The challenge, especially between Israelis and Palestinians, is not to find the solution.
The challenge is to be the first courageous enough to embrace it.
Since the release of Son of Hamas, and especially since it landed on best-seller lists, people have been offering me their congratulations and support.
Most authors would consider publication itself a cause for celebration, let alone best-seller status.
But releasing this book has not been a big victory for me; in many ways it has been my worst nightmare.
Many things have happened since this book’s release that have tempered the celebration and changed my life forever.
First, the day before Son of Hamas was released in March 2010, I received word that my father had disowned me.
As you can imagine, this was about the worst news I could have received.
Then, in May 2010, I was notified that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had scheduled a hearing to decide whether to deport me, citing my past involvement with Hamas as a potential security threat.
But before I discuss these events, I should back up to 2008.
I had come to the United States in 2007, and as I mentioned in the epilogue to Son of Hamas, I revealed my conversion to Christianity to Avi Issacharoff of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, who wrote an article about me in late July 2008.
What I didn’t know was who would be reading my story.
I had known my Shin Bet handler only by the name “Captain Loai,” which I knew was an alias, just as mine was “the Green Prince.”
Despite the customary use of code names, we trusted each other completely when we served together in the Shin Bet.
We trusted each other with our lives in almost every operation, and our relationship quickly developed from fellow agents into friendship and brotherhood.
But we had never had contact outside of that organization.
In fact, since Loai’s transfer to another district in 2004 and later dismissal from the Shin Bet in 2006, I had not heard from him at all.
So, I was shocked a few days after the Haaretz story ran to receive a personal e-mail from Gonen ben Itzhak.
He revealed that he was Captain Loai!
Even though we hadn’t been in contact, we were both concerned about how the other was doing.
I knew Gonen was struggling with the Shin Bet leadership, and I supported him in my thoughts and prayers.
Gonen was worried about me, too, even before I left Palestine.
Informing on terrorist activities and involving myself in the dangerous operations of the Shin Bet is not the best way to make friends in my homeland.
Gonen was afraid that he would pick up the newspaper one day and read that I had been killed.
When Gonen came across the article about my conversion, he initially saw only my picture on the cover of Haaretz and thought, That’s it.
My friend is gone.
But then he read of my journey to the United States and the difficulties I was facing here.
At first, he was surprised that I had even made it out of the region; then he was worried because of the situation I faced in the United States—not having a job and practically living on the streets.
Gonen knew immediately that he had to contact me.
He wrote to Avi Issacharoff asking for my e-mail address.
He didn’t reveal how he knew me (since I had not yet disclosed my relationship with the Shin Bet) or even that he knew me; he said only that it was his moral duty to help me.
The reporter provided him with my e-mail address.
It’s hard to describe the joy I felt when I received Gonen’s message.
After being involved in so many secret operations and keeping quiet for so long about who I really was, it was hard to develop new trust relationships with other people.
And, as the Haaretz article revealed, things weren’t going so well for me in the States.
But Gonen already knew about all that had happened in the Shin Bet, and he genuinely cared about my welfare.
Gonen told me about his family and about what had happened since we had parted ways in 2004.
He also offered to send money—even though he didn’t have much himself—in order to ease my life in America.
He ended his message with,
“I hope you will allow your brother the honor of helping.”
He called me his brother.
I wrote him back the next day, and we quickly resumed contact.
We both knew it was against the law for a former agent and his handler to communicate outside the Shin Bet, but we were also close friends, and neither of us was working for the Shin Bet any longer.
We talked on the phone several times over the next few months before Gonen flew out to America to renew our friendship face-to-face.
We met in the airport, and when we saw each other, we hugged and could not stop laughing.
After all our meetings together in the Middle East— under guard, in secured locations, secret from everyone—it was incredible to meet outside that context, to meet not as representatives of Israel and Palestine, Shin Bet and Hamas, but as friends.
It was amazing to think that our friendship could transcend all the barriers between us, that it could exist at all.
An outside observer might note our two backgrounds and say,
“Those two could never be friends.”
But God obviously had other plans.
Ephesians 2:14 says that Jesus himself
“is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,”
and I have seen his peacemaking work in my own life through my friendship with Gonen.
Our friendship is especially unlikely, and that much more incredible, considering who our fathers are.
My father, as mentioned in this book, is one of the founding members of Hamas, a terrorist organization.
Gonen’s father was a general in the Israeli Defense Forces during the First Intifada.
In fact, he was the general responsible for the West Bank during that time, which means that the permission given to arrest anyone as an administrative detention—a political prisoner, in other words—at that time would have had to be issued by Gonen’s father.
Gonen’s father likely signed the warrant for my father’s arrest on more than one occasion!
And yet, out of this harsh and seemingly desolate soil, by the grace of God a great friendship was allowed to bloom.
As Gonen and I rekindled our friendship, my problems with the United States Department of Homeland Security were beginning to develop.
I arrived in America on January 2, 2007, just like any other traveler might — on a tourist visa.
No investigation was made into my past; no one knew of my relation to my father, to Hamas, and especially not to the Shin Bet.
Airport security stopped me because I only had a few days left on my passport, but I was able to talk them into letting me pass.
Upon arriving in the States, I wanted to ask for political asylum, but I was told that I had to wait until my visa expired, which was in six months.
The day my visa expired, I filed an application for political asylum.
I answered the questions truthfully, but I did not disclose my connection to the Shin Bet, since I wasn’t sure yet if or how I would expose my identity as a spy.
I did mention that I am the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, that he is a Hamas leader, that I had converted to Christianity, and that I could not return to Palestine.
I included letters from friends who testified that my conversion was genuine.
I tried to be as honest as possible without revealing sensitive information.
A few weeks after my application for asylum was filed, the Department of Homeland Security asked me to come in for an interview.
I went to their office and explained who I was and my reasons for requesting political asylum in the United States.
They were shocked and probably embarrassed that they had unwittingly let someone with such an obvious connection to terrorists into the country.
They couldn’t understand how it had happened.
The officer at the interview seemed antagonistic toward me.
He had a file folder in front of him with the details of my case.
It was an imposing folder, and it looked like it included all types of media reports about my father and me and Hamas.
The officer seemed overwhelmed by the details, and it appeared that he had already made his decision about me.
I closed the file folder and told him,
“If you have the courage, go ahead and just write ‘deportation.’ Send me into custody. But know that you will be responsible for whatever happens.”
He didn’t react, so I went on.
“I love this country. I used to work for the U.S. government in the West Bank, and I have many American friends. I’m not here to abuse the system; I’m not looking to gain anything. And I’m not even trying for citizenship. I need protection. And if you still think this is a joke, that I’m just a terrorist or someone trying to take advantage of America, then let’s stop pretending. You can write ‘deportation’ right now. But know you’ll be making a big mistake and that you will be the one responsible for it.”
The officer softened a little.
“Please calm down; we don’t want to close your file,”
he said, and he offered me a drink.
After this confrontation, he spoke to me respectfully because he realized that I was not trying to game the system; I really was in danger and couldn’t return to Palestine.
“I can’t tell you my personal opinion, because I’m not allowed,”
he said, but I could tell he believed my sincerity.
“This is a very complicated case, and it will go to the courts no matter what.”
He suggested that I get a work permit to stay in the country while my case for political asylum was decided.
I didn’t hear about my application until February 23, 2009, when, unsurprisingly, my request was denied.
I suspect that the Shin Bet played a role in this, trying to hinder my asylum application so I would come back to the West Bank and continue to work for them.
The Department of Homeland Security wrote 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.”
There were court hearings after this.
I tried to explain my situation, that I was not the enemy, nor was I a threat to American security.
When the court demanded evidence to support this, I filed a draft of Son of Hamas.
I sat down with the Department of Homeland Security’s attorney and told her,
“Listen, I love this country, and I want to stay here. This is my full story. I didn’t include it on the application, but I was a Shin Bet agent for many years. I saved the lives of many Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians, and I did it because of my principles. I’ve never been a terrorist. I grew up in an environment that encouraged terrorism, but I rebelled against it. I was never involved in any killings. Please, read my story.”
I had hoped that what I described in the book would make it clear where I stood, that it would be apparent that, far from being a security risk and a terrorist, I was trying to protect the freedoms the Department of Homeland Security was also seeking to defend.
My presence in the United States seemed logical, given my background of helping the Shin Bet disarm terrorism in the Middle East and specifically the protection I gave the USAID workers while I was employed there.
I thought my book would be able to stop the long court process.
Instead, it was used against me and quoted out of context.
For example, a Homeland Security senior attorney cited that in chapter 18 of this book, I admit to transporting Hamas members to safe houses.
Of course, I did!
As a result, I was able to conduct a secret operation with Shin Bet that eventually led us to the terrorists responsible for, among other things, bombing the Hebrew University cafeteria in July 2002—a tragedy that counted five American citizens among the dead.
By providing these Hamas members with shelter, we kept them under Shin Bet supervision and control, and we were eventually able to bring them to justice.
If Homeland Security had read the rest of my book, they would have known I also worked with forty Americans on the USAID water project in the West Bank.
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.
Reading through these accusatory documents, I thought, Was my behavior that of someone who is a threat to Americans?
I received notice in May 2010 that a deportation hearing was scheduled for June 30, 2010, because actions I had performed while undercover in Hamas were seen as evidence of my “true” sympathies.
It was so frustrating to have my testimony turned against me like that!
Here I should back up once again.
Shortly before Son of Hamas was first published, in late February 2010, my friend Avi Issacharoff wrote another article about me for Haaretz, revealing my identity as a Shin Bet agent.
Avi was somewhat skeptical of my story, so I suggested that he interview Gonen about it. (I had just seen Gonen and his wife in December 2009, though he was in the dark about the details of the book—he only knew that I was publishing one.)
Gonen agreed to the interview, but he and the reporter thought it best to conceal Gonen’s real name.
Gonen confirmed the details of Son of Hamas and talked about our friendship.
Avi Issacharoff, after his interview with Gonen, called me and said,
“Man, I’m shaken. This is crazy!”
But I was thankful that Avi believed me and that my story was given more credibility through Gonen’s corroboration.
But Gonen took a huge risk in confirming my story.
He was still living in Israel, and the consequences for his revelation could have been huge.
The Shin Bet contacted Gonen after his interview ran in Haaretz, and they told him they were considering pressing charges against him for revealing his identity.
They warned him not to communicate with me again.
The penalty Gonen faced for exposing his identity and confirming my revelation of their secrets was eight years in prison.
Furthermore, if he was sent to prison, he would be unable to provide for his family.
He was also just finishing up law school in Israel; a charge like the one the Shin Bet was threatening Gonen with under Israeli law would have precluded him from practicing law in Israel.
And there was the further risk of embarrassing Gonen’s father, a well-respected, retired general in the Israel Defense Forces.
And here we are brought back to the looming deportation hearing.
My attorney asked me if I knew anyone who could testify on my behalf, but I said I didn’t.
I knew what Gonen faced if he were to testify, and he had already risked so much for me.
If he testified, he would not be able to keep his identity a secret.
Even though I faced the danger of deportation (and the inevitable death sentence that entailed), I could not willingly endanger my friend’s life and livelihood.
I prayed that God would somehow bring resolution to this trial.
Gonen was aware of the situation I faced.
Since my story had come out, Gonen and I had been talking every day.
He knew all the facts.
I was not even considering asking him to testify on my behalf; that would be an impossibility.
But Gonen insisted,
“You can’t!” I told him. “You can’t expose your identity. That would be a big problem!”
But Gonen said,
“It doesn’t matter. This is very important, and I will come.”
Just a few days before my trial, the Shin Bet renewed their warning to Gonen that he was not to see or contact me in any way.
Failure to comply would surely result in a lengthy prison sentence.
Three days after this meeting, Gonen flew to the United States to testify in my deportation hearing. (Incidentally, Gonen was also in his last semester of law school, and two of his final exams fell on the day of my trial.)
Gonen joined me in Washington, DC, where we “went public” together for the first time at a dinner sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth.
Sarah Stern, the president of that incredible organization, introduced us to senators, congresspeople, and other influential figures on Capitol Hill who were eager to lend their support to our cause.
My story and the threat of deportation I faced began to gain momentum among political leaders.
The deportation hearing was scheduled to take place at 8:00 a.m.
Gonen was waiting with a security guard in an adjacent courtroom.
As the judge entered into the court record the documents and motions that had been introduced since my last hearing, I sat next to my attorney, thinking about how I would answer all the questions I was sure would be asked and expecting to have to defend myself tooth and nail.
The judge called Gonen in, signaling that the hearing was about to begin.
But before Gonen could enter the courtroom, something completely unexpected happened: the Department of Homeland Security’s senior attorney announced that the Department no longer opposed my request for asylum.
The court was adjourned, and I didn’t realize quite what was happening.
As people filed out of the courtroom, my lawyer explained what had happened.
I couldn’t believe it!
The judge granted me asylum, pending a routine background check, and that was that.
After nearly three years of red tape and wondering what would happen, I was now at peace in the United States.
I no longer had to worry about deportation.
As I left the courthouse, I thanked God for his wonderful grace toward me and for all those he had used to bring about this verdict.
This verdict was, of course, great for me, but Gonen’s fate was still undecided.
We discussed the possibility of his remaining with me in the United States, but he said, “I want to go back. If they arrest me, they arrest me. I’ll know that I did the right thing.”
He went back to Israel, and he was not arrested.
He received four letters from the Shin Bet reprimanding him, but no action was taken.
Just like when we were working for the Shin Bet, Gonen saved my life again, and I will always be grateful.
(By the way—the legal exams he missed by coming to my defense?
He was able to reschedule them, and he passed with a high score.)
But as great as it is to have been granted political asylum, there will always loom the shadow of estrangement from my family.
My family members are the ones who should share my joy and sorrow, with whom I should celebrate victory and mourn defeat, but I have been disowned.
The shame brought on my family by my decision to go public can never be scrubbed clean.
I have broken their hearts and ruined their lives.
Who will marry my sisters now?
How can my brothers return to their schools?
I knew ahead of time the dangers of telling my story, but that does not lessen the pain I feel now.
Yet in spite of this pain, I still hold on to hope that they have not disowned me from their hearts.
I hope that, through the grace of God, we will someday be reunited as a family.
I am happy to be in the United States, but I miss my family and my country.
Still, while I had more money and power in the West Bank, the anonymity of living in such a large country has its advantages.
Despite my being on TV and being a best-selling author, many people, even in my U.S. hometown, don’t recognize me here.
In that respect, going public with my story hasn’t changed much in my life.
… Not many people know where I live, and almost nobody knows my address or the city I am in.
I try to keep a low profile as much as possible.
While many people have expressed support since I came out with my story, it’s still hard to know what people are thinking in their hearts, and after the work I did with the Shin Bet, I’m used to not trusting others—even those who may be worthy of my trust.
While publishing Son of Hamas has changed my surroundings quite a bit, it has not changed who I am.
I still have to work at following and trusting God, and the more I understand about the person of Jesus Christ, the more I realize how much I don’t know.
I don’t understand God, and I am not trying to—there’s no way I possibly could even if I tried with all my might.
All I can say is that I feel him.
I feel his work.
God is not a drug in my life, and he is not just a hanger on which I place all my blames and sorrows.
God is my inspiration, my leader, my teacher, my guide.
I am not a “religious person,” and I don’t think I will go back to “religion” no matter what.
I have rules, I obey rules, and sometimes when I feel I’m weak in an area of my personal life, I’ll say, “Okay, I want to put a rule for my life here, because I have to.”
But I am not a religious person.
If I go to church on Sunday, I go because I want to.
I don’t go there to socialize; I go there to worship.
And if I’m not there, I’m worshiping somewhere else.
I find that worship can take place anywhere.
For example, I was scuba diving just a few days ago, and I was on the bottom of the ocean.
I bowed my knees eighty feet underwater in the Pacific Ocean.
That was worship!
It reminded me of what Philippians 2:10 says we can expect in the future:
“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”
I like to connect and commune with my Lord in a different way, not in a traditional way, not in a religious way—in a way I can connect with him and feel his love.
If I fail, I know it’s my mistake.
If I succeed, I know it’s his blessing.
And that’s how I like to keep it.
I am not following people.
I am sometimes disappointed in the church, especially here in the West.
I am eager for a new generation to lead it and recognize their responsibility toward the other side of the world and the major problems we are facing, like the problem of Islam.
We have huge responsibilities as Christians, and the problems look controversial, but we can’t back down just to be “politically correct.”
I don’t know why it’s so easy for us as followers of Jesus Christ to understand the real nature of Islam and to speak the truth about it, and yet do nothing about it, or do something too late for it to matter.
The church, it seems, is ready to act after everybody else has started to act, and that’s not how it should be.
In my personal story, I witnessed members of Congress and Jewish leaders trying to save my life, while the church that was supposed to be standing by me came late.
That was frustrating to me, not because I didn’t get enough support from the church,
but because it showed me the reality of the church today, that we’re so often behind what others are doing.
It’s not about me or even just about politics.
As the Christian church, we’re supposed to be one body, and so we should be standing together at the forefront of all major humanitarian issues—whether related to the economy, politics, education, or human rights.
Spiritually, they’re all tied together under Jesus’ mission.
We need to listen to what he is saying—not to what this leader or that leader is saying—and to follow his teaching and principles.
Jesus wasn’t afraid to speak out for others, and we shouldn’t be either.
I don’t mean to come down too hard on the church.
I am grateful for the many people who encouraged me and prayed with and for me, some of whom didn’t even know me.
I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the support I did receive.
What I am saying is that prayer is not a substitute for action.
We are to pray, yes, but as the book of James says, our faith must be accompanied by actions.
It’s not enough to pray.
Praying can become irresponsible, even lazy, if we use it as an excuse for not acting.
Just as the devil can tempt us to set up false images of who God is, I believe he can tempt us to mistake the true nature of prayer.
There are many things that God would have us Christians accomplish, and I think it is our responsibility to accomplish them.
For me, this has meant speaking out against Islam, the religion of my family and culture.
As you can imagine, my message has not always been welcome.
In some cases, people are shocked that I should speak out about a subject that is often taboo in public discourse.
Others are confused and don’t know how to respond.
Still others—even some from the Muslim community—have encouraged me to continue speaking my message.
What I am doing is starting a conversation and trying to get others to join in.
I am especially hopeful about the next generation of Muslims.
They seem to be more open-minded.
My goal is to wake them up.
I want them to understand that they are not doomed by the realities of the religion, political systems, and regimes of the region they were born in.
They can fight the faith they have known, change their futures, and ultimately change their destinies.
Soon Son of Hamas will be released as a free e-book download in Arabic.
I am thrilled about this release, since it coincides with my goal of starting a conversation.
From experience I know that many will take things out of context, disbelieve the book, or write it off altogether.
I’m amazed at how the media, on both sides of an issue, can skew people’s minds and opinions, and they so often get it wrong!
For example, I could not believe how often the TV news reports about the Shin Bet operations I was involved in misstated the facts!
I would talk to the people of my city and get their opinions on what happened, and they didn’t know the facts either.
The facts seemed clear as day to me, but all the noise surrounding the issue obscured the truth.
So I know there will be many who misunderstand or choose not to understand what I have to say.
But I also know that some will read my book and their lives will be changed as they consider my encounter with Jesus Christ and his gospel of peace.
My prayer is that they, too, will embrace Christ’s command to love their enemies.
There is hope for peace in the Middle East, but it does not begin with political solutions or negotiations; it begins with the changing of individual hearts.
As I look to the future, I am thankful to have a friend like Gonen at my side.
We have overcome the odds together in so many ways.
We stayed alive in dangerous circumstances, became friends despite our cultural and faith divides, and reunited miles and years later with a shared mission.
In a culture where sometimes it seemed that everyone was using everyone else and you never knew whom you could trust, we became brothers.
My Homeland Security hearing, when we stood together in that courtroom, was just one more chance to beat the odds.
And we are not done yet.
We will continue to use all our strength and ability to work toward peace in the Middle East.
I don’t know what I will face next, but I am confident of God’s leading.
Gonen asked me a while back,
“Brother, do you think this is an accident? Why did we meet in the first place? Why did we do what we did? How were you, among all the thousands who couldn’t, able to leave the Shin Bet? How were you able to come to the United States and write a book? How are we talking on the phone right now and doing all these things? Do you think this is an accident? There is no logical mind that could say this is an accident!”
When I look at the events of the past year with my encounters with the Department of Homeland Security, of the past three years living in the United States,
of the ten years before that with the Shin Bet, and of my youth and childhood spent under the shadow of Hamas,
it is impossible for me not to see the hand of God guiding me along to where I am.
And, Lord willing, I will continue to follow his guiding hand in the rest of the time I have.
The events of this last year have shown me again that friendship and love are stronger than agency, policy, and tradition.
No matter what happens, I will continue to speak out with firm conviction that unconditional love for the “other” side and forgiveness for those who have hurt us are the only principles that will lead to healing and a better way for us all.”
In a CNN Interview, Mosab Hassan Yousef said;
“Interviewer: Join now by Mosab Hassan Yousef.
He is the author of ‘Son of Hamas’.
Your father was the founding member of Hamas,
and you were groomed to take a leadership position eventually,
you converted to Christianity,
rejected their political objectives.
Why do you do that?
Well, for the simple reason that we see right now in Gaza
– that Hamas does not care about the lives of Palestinians,
does not care about the lives of Israelis or Americans.
They don’t care about their own lives.
They consider dying for the sake of their ideology, a way of worship.
And how can you continue in that society?
Interviewer: I’ll ask you the same question I asked the last time.
Can you co-exist with someone whose mission is to your destruction?
Well, Hamas does not seek co-existence and compromise.
Hamas is seeking conquest and taken over.
And by the way, Israel, the destruction of the state of Israel is not Hamas’ final destruction.
Hamas’ final destination is building the Islamic Khalifa, which means an Islamic state on the rubble of every other civilisation.
These are the ultimate goals of the movement.
Mosab, you said in your book that Hamas targets civilians as a tool of war.
Tell us about the Hamas that you know from growing up in the West Bank.
In the Mosque, Hamas taught us that without shedding innocent blood for the sake of the ideology,
we won’t be able to build an Islamic State.
They were preparing us from the age as young as 5-years-old.
This is the ideology that Hamas was feeding us.
And honestly, it’s impossible almost for anybody to break through and see the truth and real face of Hamas,
and be able to leave at some point,
as you see in my case,
I had to lose everything,
just to say no to Hamas.”
In a Skynews Interview, Mosab Hassan Yousef said;
Interviewer: And I’m Joined now by Mosab Hassan Yousef.
Mosab, great to see you. It’s extraordinary story, yours.
You were the eldest son of a man who was one of the co-founders of Hamas.
And, indeed, for your early formative years, you worked alongside your father,
so you got a great insight into Hamas.
Tell me this from the start
what would the intended plans for Hamas when it was founded,
when it started, when it developed?
What was the plan?
Since its establishment, Hamas has one goal in mind,
which is annihilating the state of Israel,
It’s not a secret that Hamas wants to destroy the state of Israel.
They cannot accept Israel or accept Israel’s right to exist.
Interviewer: When you heard what happened on October the 7th, what was your feeling about that?
Look, as I told you, I’m not surprised by Hamas’ brutality.
But I was surprised by the scale of their attack.
Not to this degree, wiping out entire communities.
You know, messing with a nuclear power, the most powerful country in the region.
A country with a trauma, great trauma from the past
with the memory of a holocaust and all the Nazis did in the past century.
They opened the gates of hell on the Palestinian people.
This is how irresponsible this group people are.
That they are willing to actually sacrifice many Palestinian children, the entire Palestinian people,
and use them as a fuel to just achieve their ideological agendas, their religious agendas.
They are care less.
They don’t care for the human life.
We have to separate between what’s so-called Palestinian cause and Hamas’ cause.
Hamas’ cause is a sick one.
It’s coming from the pit of hell.
And they need to be removed from power.
This is my message.
As a Ex Hamas member as the son of one of Hamas’ founders – that enough of this.
If we don’t stop them now,
the next war is going to be deadlier.
And only God knows what will happen next,
if Hamas is not finished as soon as possible.
Interview: How do we get to peace from here?
You know, this time, I’m afraid that war is the only way to peace.
Because if Hamas is not removed from power, then they will build more military.
They will build longer-range missiles,
and the next attack, the next war is going to be deadlier.
The use of force is the last resort.
You can find this in every culture.
And unfortunately, now, Hamas left Israel and the free world as well with no choice
but to fight them and put an end for their violence.
Many civilians are dying, I understand this.
Their blood is on the hands of Hamas and Hamas only.
And for the civilian casualties, etc, first of all,
Hamas is using, and it’s very clear;
it’s a fact that Hamas use civilians as human shields.
It’s a fact.
Then it’s a fact that Israel called and warned civilians to evacuate buildings before they strike them.
But in the meantime, Hamas put roadblocks to stop civilians from evacuating to safe zones.
Hamas single misfire, kill hundreds of refugees taking shelter at the hospital and they blamed Israel.
What are we talking about here?”
In a Media Interview, Mosab Hassan Yousef said;
Interviewer: I know that you think that Hamas is the enemy of not just Israel but the Palestinian people.
Strategically, do you think it is wise for the Israeli defence forces to stage a ground incursion into Gaza to uproot Hamas?
Do you think that’s a smart thing to do?
Now, it’s a war time, unfortunately.
And this war, Israel did not start, Hamas started this war.
And Hamas, in fact, in this equation, blood for money,
they start the war every few years.
Whenever they want money, they shed children’s blood,
this is their game, and this has to stop.
This, have to come to an end.
And unfortunately, the price is not going to be cheap.
In fact, I feel very sorry for Israel
that they have to go into Gaza
where there are booby traps all over the place,
and tunnels all over the place.
I don’t know how many Israeli soldiers have to die in order to destroy Hamas.
This is the most complicated mission a modern army has in our modern day.
Interviewer: What can you tell us about what motivates this people?
What are they like?
What are the leaders of Hamas like?
What do they want?
Well, there are a religious movement.
And this is what everybody is afraid to say.
If Hamas was a political movement, then we can satisfy their political ambition.
But Hamas is a religious movement that does not believe in political borders.
You know they want to establish an Islamic state on the rubble of the state of Israel.
They want to annihilate the Jewish people and the Jewish state.
They want to kill everybody who support Israel.
Then, establish an Islamic state.
But this is not the end because their ambition is global.
They want to establish eventually an Islamic state, a global state.
So, this is what’s on their mind.
And we know that we cannot satisfy their ambition.
And the more power we give them, the more aggressive they’re going to be.
Hence, we cannot give Hamas what they want.
We cannot give them what they’re asking for.
Whatever it takes, you know in war, people die.
And we need to prepare public.
I say that this is an ugly war.
Israel did not start it, but Israel will end it.
Interviewer: So, the United States insists that the aid being provided for civilians in Gaza will not go to Hamas.
Do you believe that the aid will not go to Hamas,
do you believe that the aid will only go to the innocent Palestinians?
You know the United States and Europe have been very generous with the Palestinian people.
But their leadership steal the money all the time.
They steal, so much aid came into Gaza.
Hamas use all that aid to build tunnels under the ground,
and now look at the chaos they are creating.”
In a Fox News Interview, Mosab Hassan Yousef said;
“Interviewer: So, you also believe that this isn’t about the Palestinians fighting for their rights and their sovereignty?
What is the real mission of Hamas, and what do they really think of the Palestinian people?
Hamas is not a national movement.
Hamas is a religious movement with a goal to establish an Islamic State.
They don’t care for nationalism.
Actually, they are against nationalism.
With that said, my understanding that
they are using the Palestinian cause
only to achieve their goals, long-term goal,
transforming the Middle East and the world into an Islamic State.
This is Hamas’ agendas and they are not hidden by the way.
And Hamas is serving foreign agendas.
We are talking about Iran, and we are talking about Russia, lately.
Hamas serve those parties and Iran pays them close to a billion dollars annually.
Iran is the real master in this picture.
Hamas does not serve the Palestinian people.
But Hamas serve Iran.
Those are the masters of Hamas.
So, they lie about nationalism that they are a national movement.
They care for the Palestinian people; look at them.
They are using Palestinian people as human shields.
We need to free Gaza from Hamas.
This is what Israel is doing.
It’s doing the Palestinian people the greatest favour by bringing Hamas down.
Then the Palestinian people, they just want to live a normal life.
They don’t want missiles in the most populated area to be launched from under hospitals from crowded areas
and going suicidal and endangering the life of the entire population.
Who does that?
You gotta be insane to do such an operation, and we have to stop them.”
Rev George Ong