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Sheikh Hassan Yousef

Sheikh Hassan Yousef, co-founder of the Palestinian terror group Hamas and father of New York Times bestselling author Hosab Hassan Yousef, has been picked up in a raid inside the Palestinian territories by Israeli Defense Forces.

The elder Yousef had been freed from an Israeli prison two months ago, reported Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu for the Israeli TV Channel 7 Arutz Sheva.

“Hassan Yousef’s son and two others also were nabbed at their home in Bitunia, near Ramallah and north of Jerusalem,” reported Gedalyahu, noting the Palestinian Authority has committed to dismantling “the terrorist infrastructure in Arab areas of Judea and Samaria, but the IDF often carries out many missions that the PA cannot or does not want to be involved with.”

Yousef had been freed toward the end of his six-month prison term along with 200 other terrorists.

“Yousef is more widely known for being the father of Mosab Hassan Yousef – Son of Hamas – who now lives in exile in California and converted to Christianity. He worked with the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) for 10 years to prevent dozens of suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks against Israelis,” noted Gedalyahu. “His code name, Green Prince, referred to the green flag of Hamas and his father’s stature in the organization.”

As a 17-year-old, the younger Yousef had wrestled with doubts — particularly that killing other Muslims pleased God. In a chance meeting in the marketplace with a man Yousef remembers as a British businessman, Yousef was given a copy of the Bible. He took it home, read it secretly and became convinced that he had to stop the killing.

He spent a decade inside his father’s organization tipping off Israeli authorities of upcoming bombings and planned shootings. When his activities were revealed, he went into exile and now lives in the United States. His book Son of Hamas rose to number 10 on the New York Times bestsellers list.

Identified by Homeland Security as a “former terrorist,” he was almost deported in 2010, but members of the Israeli Knesset, former CIA chief James Woolsey and a key Israeli spy testified on his behalf — saying he had saved hundreds of lives in his decade as an informant.

His lawyer, Steven Seick, said recent letters of support from 22 members of Congress didn’t hurt, but a key factor was Gonen Ben Itzhak, a retired Israeli intelligence office who traveled to the hearing to corroborate Yousef’s story as a sworn witness. He decided to break his cover, an extraordinary gesture that made headlines in the Israeli press.

Itzhak said he was Yousef’s handler and was known to the youang man only by his code name, Captain Loai, while they worked together.

“I came to say that Mosab is not a terrorist,” Itzhak said after the court session. “He’s a great guy. Basically, I came to tell the truth.”

In one of the letters presented to the hearing, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Tzachi Hanegbi and committee member Einat Wilf thanked Yousef for his work from 1998 through 2007.

“You acted with resolute determination, under the guidance of the Israel security agency, to thwart terrorist attacks and the killing of innocent people while exhibiting personal courage, reliability and dedication,” according to a translation of the Hebrew letter. “At this time, when you are personally paying a high price for your daring decision to disclose this, we deem it a pleasant duty to simply say thank you very much.”

Yousef plans to seek U.S. citizenship and apply to Harvard University to pursue a master’s in Middle Eastern studies.

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