Son of Hamas

By Grant, David | The Christian Science Monitor, March 31, 2010 | Go to article overview

Son of Hamas


Grant, David, The Christian Science Monitor


The autobiography of 32-year-old Mosab Hassan Yousef, the eldest son of Hamas co-founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, is packed with real- life drama.

Son of Hamas, a story that feels like a long-lost Abrahamic fable

that has morphed into contemporary history, is explosive. To be sure,

the writing is clumsy in places, but that occasional distraction does

nothing to blunt the impact of the material.

The book is the autobiography of 32-year-old Mosab Hassan Yousef,

the eldest son of Hamas cofounder Sheikh Hassan Yousef. And what a

tale Mosab has to tell. As a child, he was a stone-throwing

participant in the first intifada, the Palestinian uprising against

Israeli occupation that rocked Israel and the Palestinian territories

in the early 1990s. Although Mosab had a tender relationship with his

father - a man widely regarded as a voice of moderation within

Hamas and portrayed by Mosab as a gentle human being - Mosab

himself is nearly consumed with hatred fed by the bitter frustration

of life under Israeli occupation.

When he gets hauled into Israeli prison on the suspicion that he is

preparing a terrorist attack, Mosab strikes a deal with an Israeli

intelligence agent and becomes an informant, a move he sees as a way

to get out of the clink sooner rather than later. While things

don't work out as pleasantly in the near term as Mosab might have

liked, his departure begins a sort of slow unraveling. His feeling of

powerlessness at the senseless death around him pushes into deeper

and deeper connections with his new Israeli colleagues.

Code-named the "Green Prince" for his position amid the upper

echelons of Hamas (whose signature color is green), Mosab goes on to

help Israeli intelligence imprison scads of Palestinian resistance

leaders (including Marwan Barghouti, who many analysts now believe

will play a leading role in the future of Palestinian politics) and

head off suicide bombings. At the same time, he wrestles with the

agonizing realization that his beloved father will stay alive only if

Mosab uses his influence to keep him in the safest possible place: an

Israeli prison, where he remains to this day.

Mosab's transformation into the Green Prince carries a spiritual

shift as well: he becomes a Christian. Mosab is not shy about laying

out answers to the moral dilemmas he faces. It's an aspect of the

book that is endearing at some moments but preachy and an impediment

to the flow of the narrative in others.

There are more than a few vignettes in "Son of Hamas" that will

make your heart race. When a cell of would-be suicide bombers seeks

out Mosab's assistance in securing accommodation before their

attacks, the listening equipment he stows in their room allows the

Shin Bet (the Israeli Security Agency) to hear the men discuss their

impending murderous immolation.

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