Hamas leader's son 'spied for Israel'

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The son of one of the founders of the Hamas militant group was exposed today as a top Israeli informant who helped prevent dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks.

Mosab Hassan Yousef, codenamed "the Green Prince" by his handlers, was one of the Shin Bet security service's most valuable sources, Israel's Haaretz newspaper said.

His reports led to the arrests of several high-ranking Palestinian figures during the violent uprising that began in 2000, the newspaper said.

Yousef's father, Sheik Hassan Yousef, was a founding member of the Islamic militant group Hamas in the 1980s. He is currently serving a six-year sentence in an Israeli prison for his political activities.

The younger Yousef converted to Christianity and moved to California in 2007.

The revelation deals another setback to Hamas, which is reeling from the assassination of a leading member in Dubai last month. There have been reports that an insider assisted the killers.

Yousef's memoir, "Son of Hamas," is being published next week in the US.

Yousef could not be contacted for comment, but an excerpt from the book on his Facebook page plugs it as "a gripping account of terror, betrayal, political intrigue, and unthinkable choices." It describes Yousef's journey as one that "jeopardised Hamas, endangered his family, and threatened his life."

It also says Yousef's relationship with the Shin Bet helped thwart an Israeli plan to assassinate his father.

Yousef told the paper Shin Bet agents first approached him in prison in 1996 and proposed he infiltrate the upper echelons of Hamas. He did so successfully and is credited by Israel with saving hundreds of Israeli lives.

Yousef said he hoped to send a message of peace to Israelis, though he remained pessimistic about the prospects for ending the Israel-Palestinian conflict. He had particularly sharp comments for Hamas, the Iranian-backed movement that seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and has been branded a terrorist organisation by Israel and the West.

"Hamas cannot make peace with the Israelis. That is against what their God tells them. It is impossible to make peace with infidels," he said.