Tue, Mar 09, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Hamas founder’s son details spying

AFP , WASHINGTON

The son of a founder of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas detailed his years spying for Israel’s domestic security agency, Shin Bet, on Sunday.

Mosab Yussef told CNN he fed Shin Bet information about Hamas attack plots for 10 years because he found the group was practicing “exceptional cruelty” against its members and “killed people for no reason.”

Hamas and Israel waged a brutal three-week war in the Gaza Strip that ended in January last year after 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.

The Islamist group, which has ruled the tiny coastal enclave ever since it seized power from the US-backed Palestinian Authority in June 2007, has also launched rocket attacks on Israel from the territory.

“They offered me to work for them. My goal was to be a double agent and attack them from the inside,” Yussef, 32, said of his initial contacts with Shin Bet.

However, the views of the man who came to become a top informer codenamed “The Green Prince” changed after a stay in prison.

“After I was tortured by Shin Bet, I was transferred to prison [where] Hamas tortured Hamas members and I became confused who was really my enemy ... I accepted to meet Shin Bet,” he said.

Yussef, whose father Sheikh Hassan Yussef disowned him after Mosab made his revelations in the book Son of Hamas, said his decision was partly a moral one.

“My people did not understand this. Shin Bet is committed to a Constitution but Hamas targets civilians. There’s a difference between targeting a terrorist and civilians,” he said.

The Israeli daily Haaretz, which first reported on the revelations, said Mosab was crucial in the arrests of Ibrahim Hamid, a Hamas military chief in the West Bank, and Abdullah Barghuti, the bomb maker behind an infamous 2001 suicide attack on a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem.

“I saw that my enemy ... they had morality, they had their responsibilities more than my own people,” said Yussef, who converted to Christianity 10 years ago and now lives in California.

He reportedly worked for the Shin Bet at the height of the 2000 Palestinian intifada, or uprising, when Hamas carried out dozens of deadly suicide bombings in Israel and Israel waged an all out war on the group.

CNN quoted an intelligence source as saying Yussef’s basic claims were true and the alleged collaboration was a “modus operandi of how Israeli agents work” to penetrate the ranks of militant groups who are sworn enemies of the Jewish state.

Yussef insisted he was not responsible for any deaths of militants.

“As a Shin Bet agent, when I had information I helped arrest people, otherwise they hit randomly. When I specified a particular person I had a condition — not to kill that person,” he said.

“In 10 years working for Shin Bet I am not responsible for killing one terrorist. I care about my people, my problem was their [Hamas’] ideology,” he said.

The elder Yussef — a senior Hamas leader in the West Bank who is being held in an Israeli jail — had previously denied his son was ever an active member of Hamas.

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