San Diego: The U.S. Department of Homeland of Security ruled more than a year ago that Mosab Hassan Yousef should be denied asylum because he has "engaged in terrorist activity" and is a "danger to the security of the United States."
Now it`s up to an immigration judge to agree or side with Yousef`s supporters, who call the former Israeli spy a hero.
The 32-year-old son of one of Hamas` founders argues Wednesday before Judge Rico Bartolomei that he will be killed if he is deported because he spied on the militant group for the Shin Bet security`s intelligence agency for a decade and abandoned Islam for Christianity.
"For 10 years, he fought terrorism in secret, hiding what he was doing and who he was," his attorney, Steven Seick, wrote in a court filing. "He deserves a safe place away from violence and fear."
The deportation hearing comes four months after Yousef published memoirs that say he was one of Shin Bet`s best assets and was dubbed The Green Prince, a reference to his Hamas pedigree and the Islamists` signature green color.
The Department of Homeland of Security called Yousef a terrorist danger when it denied him asylum in February 2009. In court documents provided by Yousef`s attorney, the department says he "discusses his extensive involvement with Hamas in great detail" in his recent memoir.
Yousef says his intelligence work for Israel required him to do anything he could to learn about Hamas and that neither he nor Israel knew they were suspects in the suicide bombing when he gave them rides.
"Yes, while working for Israeli intelligence, I posed as a terrorist," he 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."
Yousef has rallied support from members of Congress and others. Former CIA Director James Woolsey calls him a "remarkable young man" who should be commended for "extraordinary heroism and courage."
Israel has not commented on Yousef`s claims, though members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee wrote him this month to thank him and recognize his work for Shin Bet.
His attorney said Shin Bet will not have a representative address the immigration judge, but the now-retired officer who recruited and supervised him, Gonen Ben-Itzhak, is expected to testify.
In his book, Yousef describes growing up admiring Hamas and hating Israel, leading him to buy a couple machine guns and a handgun in 1996. He said the guns didn`t work and that 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 Christian study group after a chance encounter with a British tourist at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.
Yousef 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.