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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

"Son of Hamas" Seeking Asylum in United States

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The son of a founder of Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, is scheduled to appear in Immigration Court in San Diego on June 30, 2010.  Mossad Hassan Yousef, son of Hamas founding member Sheikh Hassan Yousef, says that he "accepted Christ" in 2005.  He also claims to have worked as a spy for the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet, and says he helped foil numerous terrorists attacks.  Apparently, his father disowned him, and he fears return to the Palestinian territory.  The younger Yousef has written a book about his experience, Son of Hamas, subtitled: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices.



   Hamasochist?


Mr. Yousef has been blogging about his life and his asylum case.  He writes that despite his questionable pedigree, he entered the U.S. without difficulty in January 2007.  Seven months later, he applied for political asylum.  His application was rejected because the Asylum Office deemed him a danger to the security of the United States and a terrorist.  The case was referred to an Immigration Judge.  Mr. Yousef seems surprised by his situation:


My concern is not about being deported. It is that I am being forced to stand and defend myself as a terrorist! This is ridiculous. And as long as this case is in the courts, I cannot leave the United States. If I do, I will never be able to return. For what? For risking my life fighting terrorism in the Middle East for ten years? For saving the lives of Israelis, Palestinians and Americans?


Maybe so, but I can understand why the Asylum Office was hesitant to grant asylum.


Mr. Yousef claims that DHS is relying on the work he did for Shin Bet-which involved "helping" members of Hamas in order to infiltrate the organization-to charge him with providing material support to terrorists.  He writes, "If Homeland Security cannot tell the difference between a terrorist and a man who spent his life fighting terrorism, how can they protect their own people?"  He continues:


Exposing terrorist secrets and warning the world in my first book cost me everything. I am a traitor to my people, disowned by my family, a man without a country. And now the country I came to for sanctuary is turning its back.


We'll see.  I imagine Mr. Yousef knows that the judge will review his asylum claim de novo, so the Asylum Office's conclusion should not be much of a factor.  He seems to have a strong asylum case, and his story about working for Shin Bet appears credible.  Maybe DHS believes that he is a double agent, or maybe they have evidence that we (and Mr. Yousef) does not know about.  Or maybe, as Mr. Yousef suggests, DHS is simply incapable of distinguishing between a terrorist and an anti-terrorist.  I don't know, but I wonder, if DHS is really so concerned about Mr. Yousef, why he is not currently detained pursuant to INA § 236A (Mandatory detention of suspected terrorists)?

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