U.S. judge agrees to grant asylum to ex-Israeli spy

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The filing was not specific about the threat Yousef might pose to the U.S.

Yousef has said his spy work for Israel required him to do anything he could to learn about Hamas, and neither he nor Israeli officials knew the five people were suspects in the bombing when he gave them rides.

“Yes, while working for Israeli intelligence, I posed as a terrorist,” Yousef wrote on his blog last month. “Yes, I carried a gun. Yes, I was in terrorist meetings with Yassir Arafat, my father and other Hamas leaders. It was part of my job.”

Gonen Ben Itzhak, a retired Israeli intelligence officer who once supervised Yousef, had traveled from Israel to be the first witness at Wednesday’s hearing. The judge, however, made his ruling before Itzhak took the stand.

“Basically, I wanted to say that Mosab was not a terrorist,” Itzhak said later. “He was not affiliated with Hamas.”

Israel has not commented on Yousef’s claims, though members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee wrote to him this month to thank him for his work for Shin Bet.

In his book, Yousef describes growing up admiring Hamas and hating Israel. He said he bought machine guns and a handgun in 1996, but the guns didn’t work and he was arrested by Israeli forces before he killed anyone.

Yousef says he started working with Shin Bet after witnessing Hamas brutalities in prison that left him disillusioned. He gravitated toward Christianity after his release in 1997, joining a study group after a chance encounter with a British tourist at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.

He says he joined his father Sheik Hassan Yousef at many meetings with Palestinian leaders and reported them to Shin Bet. His father, a senior Hamas leader who is serving a six-year sentence in an Israeli prison, disowned him in March.

Yousef was free during his asylum case, settling in San Diego after coming to the U.S. on a tourist visa in 2007. He said he wants to become a U.S. citizen and pursue a master’s degree in history or geography.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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