Thursday, February 25, 2010; A11
JERUSALEM -- The son of one of Hamas's founders says in a new book that he served as a top informant for Israel for more than a decade, providing top-secret intelligence that helped prevent dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israelis.
Mosab Hassan Yousef's memoir, "Son of Hamas," is being published next week in the United States, and highlights of the book and an interview with the author appeared Wednesday in Israel's Haaretz daily. Yousef declined to comment, but his Facebook page plugs the book as "a gripping account of terror, betrayal, political intrigue, and unthinkable choices."
The revelation of such a high-level informant is another apparent blow to Hamas, which suffered a setback last month when one of its top commanders was assassinated in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Dubai authorities have accused Israel of carrying out the hit, and there have been reports that a Hamas insider assisted the killers.
Hamas, however, said it was suspicious of Yousef's activities for years and had kept a close eye on him to prevent him from gathering valuable information. His father, Sheik Hassan Yousef, a founder of the Islamist militant group in the 1980s and still a senior figure, issued a statement through his attorney saying his son had been "blackmailed" by Israeli authorities during a stint in jail in 1996.
Mosab Yousef told Haaretz that he was one of Israeli intelligence's most valuable sources in the Gaza Strip. His reports led to the arrests of several high-ranking Palestinian figures during the violent Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule that began in 2000, the newspaper said.
The younger Yousef converted to Christianity and moved to California in 2007.
Hamas officials rejected the Haaretz report as propaganda meant to divert attention from the Dubai assassination.
The elder Yousef said in his statement that when Hamas concluded Israel was extorting his son, "the members of the movement were warned about him." He was placed "under the supervision" of his father, whom the statement described as a politician uninvolved in militant activities. The elder Yousef is currently serving a six-year sentence in an Israeli prison for his political activities.
Collaboration with Israel is tantamount to treason in Palestinian society and can be punishable by death.
Yousef told Haaretz that Israeli intelligence agents first approached him in prison in 1996 and proposed he infiltrate the upper echelons of Hamas. He did so and is credited by Israel with saving hundreds of Israeli lives.
His book's publisher, Tyndale House Publishers, which prints books with Christian themes, confirmed the details in the Haaretz report. Shin Bet, Israel's internal intelligence agency, declined to comment.