Anyone looking for an explanation of the Homeland Security Department’s multiple failures to prevent terrorist attacks on the American homeland might want to consider this one: because the department is too busy targeting a leading Israeli counter-terrorism agent.
On June 30, a California court will consider the department’s request for a deportation order against Mosab Yousef, on the grounds that he “provided material support” to a terrorist organization — namely, Hamas. Yousef was indeed a Hamas member — unsurprisingly, given that his father is the movement’s leader in the West Bank — and was even arrested by Israel for it. But while in jail, he was persuaded to become an Israeli agent.
For the following 10 years, from 1997-2007, he was Israel’s top agent inside Hamas. His former handler in Israel’s Shin Bet security service credits him with foiling dozens of suicide bombings and supplying intelligence that led to the arrest of many of those on Israel’s most-wanted list.
In 2007, he decided he’d had enough and moved to the U.S., where he sought asylum. He also went public with his conversion to Christianity some years earlier and began writing his memoir, Son of Hamas, which was published earlier this year.
Incredibly, it was on this book — in which he details his work in Israel’s behalf at great length — that the Homeland Security Department based its request for Yousef’s deportation. The request notes, for instance, that Yousef himself described numerous occasions on which chauffeured Hamas terrorists around.
Well, of course he did. It was precisely his proximity to Hamas’s centers of power — by serving as a chauffeur for his father and other leading Hamas members — that enabled him to obtain such valuable intelligence. Had he refused to have anything to do with Hamas, he would have kept his hands clean, but he also would have been useless as an agent.
This deportation request prompts many questions. One is why official Israel has not been raising a storm in its former agent’s behalf — though a fair answer would be that official Israel has zero pull with the current administration. Another is what kind of message this sends to American agents — many of whom must also dirty their hands to produce vital intelligence. Will they, too, face deportation on account of their former involvement in terrorist organizations, should they someday seek asylum in the U.S.?
But the best question of all is the one Yousef himself asked on his blog: “If Homeland Security cannot understand a simple situation like mine, how can they be trusted with bigger issues?”