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. …