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"Son of Hamas" granted political asylum in San Diego

SAN DIEGO - The so-called Son of Hamas, who spent a decade spying on the militant group for Israel, has been granted political asylum in San Diego after converting to Christianity, it was reported today.

Palestinian Mosab Hassan Yousef denounced his Islamic faith in 2005 and came to the United States on a tourist visa in 2007 after meeting Christian missionaries from a San Diego-area church, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The 32-year-old later sought political asylum because he feared retaliation from Islamic terrorists and rejection by family members, according to the newspaper.

Yousef is the son of Hamas co-founder, Shiek Hassan Yousef, and while in the country, he penned ''Son of Hamas,'' which rose to No. 10 on The New York Times best-seller list earlier this year.

In an immigration hearing Wednesday, the younger Yousef celebrated his asylum by hugging other members of the Barabbas Road Church in La Jolla after government lawyers told Homeland Security Immigration Court Judge Richard Bartolomei they no longer opposed Yousef's request, the Union-Tribune reported.

Until the hearing, immigration officials had been wary of Yousef's claims that he helped kill Hamas officials and thwarted bomb attacks. They had said he was a danger to national security.

Immigration officials did not announce in court what led them to the about-face but Yousef's lawyer told the Union-Tribune that recent letters of support from 22 members of Congress and two members of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, probably helped.


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