Ramallah-born Mosab Hassan Yousef has made enough enemies in the Palestinian
territories to last a lifetime. The eldest son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of
the founders of Hamas, spent his early years as a Hamas activist and went
through more than a few stints in Israeli prison.
But for ten years,
Yousef was “the Green Prince,” a code name given to him by the Shin Bet (Israel
Security Agency), with whom he worked to prevent dozens of terrorist attacks
during the second intifada, saving hundreds of Israeli lives.
ago, Yousef – who now lives in the US – published the book Son of Hamas: A
Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue and Unthinkable
Choices, in which he detailed his disillusionment with the violence inside
Hamas and his decision to assist Israel from around 1996 to 2006.
Yousef is a devout Christian who is open about his faith as well as his
pessimism for the future of peace in the Middle East.
“This is not a time
to surrender, this is a time to inspire the new generation,” said Yousef during
a press conference on Tuesday organized by Media- Central. “I understand shame
and sensitivity. The most shameful thing was to work for Israel, and I did it
voluntarily, because I wanted to set an example that we must fight for
The guiding principal throughout his tumultuous tenure, Yousef
said, was his dedication to saving lives.
“Nobody knew of my existence,
the only light I had in my life was, ‘how can I go wrong by saving a human
life?’” said Yousef. “Yes, there are lots of politics involved and lots of
national agendas and it was a very complicated situation, but it was about
saving human beings. I had to trade culture, religion and identity – all this
for the sake of humanity.”
“If I did something wrong in the eyes of many
ignorant people, I am okay with that, and I hope one day they will be able to
see this,” he added.
But Yousef, whose family disowned him, was not cowed
by the enemies he created during his public revelation of his years as a Shin
Bet double agent. Now, he is taking on an even bigger challenge: a movie
depicting the life of Muhammad, Islam’s holiest prophet.
understand the real nature of Islam,” said Yousef, who said it is a fanatical
religion that favors war over peace. He cited the Arab Spring’s failure to
create meaningful change and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as
proof that Islam is propelling Arab states backward rather than
Yousef noted that he has the authority to criticize Islam
because he comes from an Islamic background. He said he wants the world to know
about what he says is “the truth” about Muhammad, Islam’s holiest prophet: that
he glorified and encouraged murder as a form of worship, married a 9- year-old
bride and valued violence.
He is working with Israeli film producer and
actor Sam Feuer. Feuer played the role of Yosef Romano in the film Munich and is
releasing the movie The First Grader in the fall. Feuer will produce both a
feature film adaptation of Son of Hamas as well as the Muhammad movie, and
insists that the film will be a “historical account” faithful to Muslim
Depictions of Muhammad are forbidden according to Islamic
tradition. The famous Danish cartoons of the prophet published in 2005 prompted
riots across the Arab world in which more than 200 people were killed. The
newspaper and the cartoonist also received multiple death threats.
Yousef and Feuer insisted they are not frightened by the possibility of violence
surrounding the film. Yousef frequently brushed off questions about his personal
safety, especially in light of his decision to visit Israel as a guest of Likud
MK Ayoub Kara. “I feel very safe,” he said repeatedly.
Yousef said the
film would be a historical depiction of Muhammad’s life as told through Ibn
Ishaq, an Arab historian from the eighth century who is believed to be one of
the most reliable biographers of the prophet. Feuer said the movie has already
interested sponsors and a major screenwriter who is in the process of creating
Yousef added that he wants to free the world of “the absolute
power of all religions,” starting with Islam. “It is time to bring Allah to the
table and see [Islam] for what it is,” he said.