Enjoy this deluxe edition of our initial chat with ‘Son of Hamas’ author Mosab Hassan Yousef, featuring exclusive new insights into Israel’s current events.
What We Discuss with Mosab Hassan Yousef:
- What it was like growing up in one of the first families of Palestinian terrorist group Hamas — and why Mosab considers it “the greatest school of [his] life.”
- The turning point when Mosab no longer saw Hamas as the “good” guys.
- How Mosab dealt with the loneliness of working undercover for Israeli intelligence against his former friends and family.
- What Mosab feels about the well-meaning but — he believes to be misguided — “free Palestine” movement.
- What prompted Mosab to get out of undercover work and chronicle his story for others to read (and watch on television).
- And much more…
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider including your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
A lot of us have grown up in the midst of a family business. If it was a restaurant, we probably washed a lot of dishes and bussed a lot of tables as a kid. If it was a garage, we probably learned how to turn a wrench and change a tire before we attended kindergarten. If it was Hamas, we probably threw a lot of rocks at Israeli settlers and watched the family patriarch get hauled off by the police regularly without many options for going to school at all.
On this episode, we talk to Mosab Hassan Yousef, A Palestinian who spent a lot of his youth in the latter situation. Mosab was the son of a Hamas co-founder before a change of heart had him working undercover for Israeli intelligence to thwart terrorist plots and save lives. Now he’s settled down and sharing the details from his book Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Unthinkable Choices and in the documentary The Green Prince. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Jordan Harbinger Show receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you for your support!
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Miss our two-part conversation with ex-Al-Qaeda spy Aimen Dean? Catch up by starting with episode 383: Aimen Dean | Nine Lives of a Spy Inside Al-Qaeda Part One here!
THANKS, MOSAB HASSAN YOUSEF!
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Unthinkable Choices by Mosab Hassan Yousef and Ron Brackin | Amazon
- The Green Prince | Prime Video
- Mosab Hassan Yousef | Son of Hamas Founder Denounces Terror Group | Jordan Harbinger
- Mosab Hassan Yousef | Wikipedia
- Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: What Is Hamas? | Vox
- Hassan Yousef (Hamas Leader) | Wikipedia
- Shin Bet | Wikipedia
- The Virginity Games Muslim Women Play | HuffPost UK Life
- Do Female Suicide Bombers Get 72 Virgins Too? | Slate
- Who Was Yasser Arafat? | Al Jazeera America
- Ibrahim Hamed | Wikipedia
- Hebrew University Bombing | Wikipedia
- First We Take Manhattan by Leonard Cohen | Amazon Music
- Dolphinarium Discotheque Massacre | Wikipedia
925: Mosab Hassan Yousef | The Green Prince of Hamas Redux
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Coming up on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:02] Mosab Hassan Yousef: When you are in the spotlight as the son of a top leader of the revolution of all the chaos that's happening very close to Hamas military wing and understand the culture, and hanging out with basically top wanted, top terrorists in the region from the bomb makers, the suicide bomber to the mastermind behind them, you become just a target for everybody.
[00:00:29] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. Our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker through long-form conversations with a variety of amazing folks, from spies to CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, and performers, even the occasional former cult member, arms dealer, astronaut, or tech luminary.
[00:00:56] If you're new to the show or you want to tell your friends about the show, I suggest our episode starter packs is a place to begin. These are collections of our favorite episodes on persuasion and negotiation, psychology and geopolitics, disinformation and cyberwarfare, crime, and cults, and more, and it'll help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on this show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start, or search for us in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:18] Now today, this is a replay-ish of an older episode. It's with my friend Mosab Hassan Youssef. We had him on last week to talk about Hamas, given the current climate and conflict. If you remember, he got quite fired up.
[00:01:30] This is a very different episode. We recorded this three years ago. But I wanted to re-air it because obviously, it is hyper relevant right now. It's not just going to be a re-air of that episode. I've got some commentary about the current conflict that we are going to be splicing in into the episode, into the show close.
[00:01:46] It's not totally a rebroadcast if you just listened to that one a week ago. You could also just listen to this one, and you will find new stuff. If you haven't listened to that one for a long time/ever, now's a great time to jump in. Mosab is much more kill than he was last week, in this episode, for obvious reasons.
[00:02:03] So, it's a totally different vibe. If you thought that one was a little bit too much, this one will not be like that. All right, here's an updated episode 407. Growing up, Hamas was the family business. If you're not familiar with Hamas, this is a group that is on the US terrorist watch list and operates primarily in Israel, Palestine, elsewhere in the area.
[00:02:23] Of course, including the United States, Europe, Africa, these things do tend to spread. In that area of the world, collaborating with Israel is the worst thing anyone can do. It's literally seen as worse than raping someone in your own family. His dad was a very respected Islamic leader with a major following and a lot of respect all over the country.
[00:02:42] His father was essentially the leader of Hamas in Palestine and spent over 25 years in Israeli prison. Just think about that. 25 years locked up in Israeli prison. He gets out of prison, takes Mosab as his assistant, essentially the gatekeeper to all these folks. Thus, Mosab becomes the closest son to the leader of Hamas.
[00:03:01] This made him the single most important asset of the Israeli security service once he was recruited. So today, I want to go over Mosab's story of Hamas getting recruited by Israel and eventually escaping that entire situation. You'll have to forgive the audio quality on this one. It's a little bit rougher than usual.
[00:03:18] This was recorded in an undisclosed location for obvious reasons. We didn't have our usual stuff and there were a little bit of issues there. That's just what happens when you're recording something with somebody who is essentially on the run. Many groups, including Al Qaeda, still have a death sentence hanging over Mosab's head.
[00:03:34] I do hope you enjoy this. If you're wondering how I managed to get these amazing guests, it's because of my network and persistence. I'm teaching you how to create your own network, whether it's for business reasons, personal reasons, check out our course, Six-Minute Networking at jordanharbinger.com/course. Most of the guests on the show, they subscribe to the course. They contribute to the course. Come join us. You'll be in smart company.
[00:03:58] Now, here's Mosab Hassan, The Green Prince.
[00:04:03] By the way, initially, this is like one of the — I've known you for a while now, I feel like we go way back, but this is one of the hardest shows to book. Initially, you didn't even want to do it, right? Your manager couldn't reach you or the book publisher, I should say, couldn't reach you. Can we talk about that a little bit?
[00:04:17] Mosab Hassan Yousef: You know, I said what I had to say, I don't like repetitions, just keep repeating myself again and again through media outlets. My publisher, from their point of view, they want me to promote the book, which is a product. For me, if I said something, even to one person, it's already contributing to consciousness, to the world.
[00:04:39] I don't need like to repeat it a thousand times. I take a break. I take a step back. I evaluate my actions. I evaluate my movement. I learn from my mistakes. I'm not like a blogger or a politician or a religious leader that wants to control a bunch of sheep. I'm individual and I respect my individuality.
[00:05:00] Sometimes I feel bankrupted. There is nothing else to say, you know? I just dwell into silence. I'm not afraid to say I have nothing to say. That was the truth. I hope that you did not take it personally.
[00:05:13] Jordan Harbinger: No, no!
[00:05:13] Mosab Hassan Yousef: I think your show is great and I think you're a great person. Then when time comes, and they saw that you were like insisting that it was like, okay. See, maybe there's something there.
[00:05:25] Jordan Harbinger: Well, I appreciate that. I mean, you do have very strong beliefs and your story is really impressive because of that, because you basically were put in a place where you had to, and correct me if I'm wrong here, you almost had to trade your home to do what you thought was right. You had to trade your home and your family to do what you thought was right in the end.
[00:05:45] Mosab Hassan Yousef: Not only home. In fact, I had to die to the old self. I had to die to everything that I knew, to my friends, to my family, to my culture, my society, my securities, all of them. Everything I knew. All the knowledge that I had, all of a sudden, I had to choose between all the things that I knew were useless, and I walk into the unknown, not knowing what's going to be next, what's going to be tomorrow.
[00:06:13] And that's all for the sake of my freedom. Not to be in slavery to the expectations of a certain society or a certain group of people, including my own parents. I don't want to say that this is the ultimate prize, but I had to go through a lot, from torture to literally death. My heart stopped. The level of pressure that they had to go through; my heart stopped for approximately 30 seconds.
[00:06:42] Most of the human beings cannot make it back. This is the level of stress that I was going through, to lose family, to lose home, to lose my sense of security, my sense of being, which practically now I know that it was just a false sense of being.
[00:06:58] Jordan Harbinger: Let's start from the beginning, because a lot of people don't really know your story, of course, but they also don't necessarily know what Hamas is. Can you explain what it is for people who've maybe never heard of it or only heard of it on the news?
[00:07:12] Mosab Hassan Yousef: Hamas is an Islamic movement, like Al Qaeda, like Hezbollah, Salafi-jihadists, and the rest of those groups.
[00:07:22] Of course, it has a cause, it has a national cause, it has a religious cause. Now, the United States of America and the rest of the Free World actually consider Hamas as a terrorist organization. My father is one of the founding members of Hamas, the seven original founders. Hamas at some point was my project also.
[00:07:43] Hamas for us was everything, for me as a person who was born in the heart of Hamas leadership and witnessed Hamas evolution from the moment of establishment to the point where it became an army and a main player in the stability of the Middle East region. It fascinates me. I cannot even say what Hamas is.
[00:08:07] Is it the Hamas 1987, the first was born? Or is it Hamas 2003, killing thousands of people, sending dozens of suicide bombers? Is it Hamas, the political movement or is it Hamas? The religious movement? Is it Hamas? It's a monster.
[00:08:23] Jordan Harbinger: When you say that, it's a monster, I mean, I want to get into the evolution of this.
[00:08:28] I actually, of course, I read the book, I watched the movie. We'll link to those things in the show notes as well. You grew up with Hamas throwing rocks at convoys, Israeli convoys, and things like that. Your dad was in Hamas, your grandfather was in Hamas. What was your turning point where you realized like, “Oh, I'm in the middle of this organization.”
[00:08:47] I mean, I know when you were young, the police, the Israeli soldiers, I should say, came to your house to talk to your dad for five minutes. Was that story the beginning of your experience? It almost seems as you tell it in the book, that that's the beginning of when you realize like, “Oh, this is a real thing that I'm in here This is a family legacy that's pretty serious.”
[00:09:08] Mosab Hassan Yousef: First of all, my father was arrested by the Israeli forces many times. He was just released a few weeks ago. He spent more than 25 years in Israeli prisons. And as a child, I grew up where a bunch of uniformed soldiers considered by the Palestinian society, my society, then as the enemy, the occupier. We did not like them.
[00:09:35] Actually, we hated them, and we want them dead. For that, they would come, they arrest my father and his other Hamas friends and other Palestinian factions. It was a war zone. Not only arresting my father. We're not talking about the police coming into some protester’s house and arresting them in California.
[00:09:58] We're talking about army coming into the house with their rifles pointing at everybody. Sometimes there was shooting and sometimes there was clashes outside. Sometimes children got shot. Sometimes elders got shot. Thousands of people died during the first Palestinian intifada. And I was living just right next to the cemetery of the town, which as a child, at the age of 10, I witnessed the burial of dozens, hundreds of people on daily basis.
[00:10:27] The bodies just kept coming and coming and coming. Of course, talking about it right now sounds exaggerating, but even for me right now, it's very hard actually to believe that I had to go through that, to see the human brutality. It's not as simple as just like, they took my daddy away. And the child now has some prejudices. We're talking about hardcore human ugly side, as ugly as it can get, where everybody's living in fear, where everybody wants to shoot everybody.
[00:10:59] Where everybody's trapping everybody. In this chaos, human chaos, where the truth is lost, where a child honestly doesn't know a better truth, my father was the truth. And what to do with those uniformed soldiers coming into the house to just arrest my father, of course, any child, if you were in my position, you would hate them.
[00:11:25] But that was not only a personal thing. It was ideological thing. It was a national thing. All the groups, religious groups, if you go to the mosque, the mullahs or the imams are inciting against those occupiers. Graffiti on the wall is inciting against the occupation, the media, the family, the parents. Many external forces are pushing you to believe in one thing. This is a very, very dangerous conditioning process.
[00:11:58] Jordan Harbinger: When did you change the view or did you change the view of your father for, you know, like a lot of us, we look at our dads, we see this hero. When did you change your view from, my dad is a hero to my dad is a complicated man that could rationalize the deaths of a lot of people?
[00:12:14] Mosab Hassan Yousef: Of course, this is an evolution. If I tell you that there was like a moment to just figure out everything, then I would like for everybody in the Middle East to go through that moment to realize. But this is an evolution, you know? I'll tell you something. My father and his likes, and I don't mean to disrespect my father by any mean, I love him, but I don't respect him that much.
[00:12:38] At some point, he was an inspiration. He was the freedom fighter. He was the one who was sacrificing his life in Israeli prisons and all that. But today, I understand. He's just wearing a mask by the name of the cause, the Palestinian cause, which everybody's cause and by the name of God, or by the name of Allah that's their God, or by the name of a certain ideology, or liberating the people, freeing the people.
[00:13:08] Every individual can have their own version of truth and hide behind it, all the desires and the lust, and the hatred, and the human delusion. My father is no different. I wish that he was of a higher understanding to just see that he's just only driven by hate, lust, anger, and delusion.
[00:13:31] And when an individual is blinded to that degree, they will cause harm, they will cause damage. The mind will always find a way to justify its actions. On one hand, he would kill and blow people up. On the other hand, says like, “Okay. We are defending our children. We're not killing others. We’re defending our children.”
[00:13:50] And the same mind that tells him the truth, the same mind that tells him the lie as well.
[00:13:58] Jordan Harbinger: Tell me about — I don't mean to chuckle at this story, but when I think about it, it's almost a little bit funny because it's like your teenage moment here. You're 18 years old, and you decide to buy a load of guns. First of all, what was that all about? That was like, the worst plan ever, right?
[00:14:17] Mosab Hassan Yousef: Well, you know, I grew up in a jungle full of just not only by the way from Palestinian-Israeli hatred, also the rivalry of Palestinian factions within the Palestinian society, the PA versus Hamas versus Fatah versus public front, and 10 other factions.
[00:14:41] If you don't have guns, nobody respects you in that culture. If you don't have power, they will crush you. There, there was no government. There were a bunch of corrupt politicians, basically criminals, committing crime against humanity. So, to grow up in this type of environment, you should not be very surprised that a child of that environment decided to go buy guns.
[00:15:07] It's not like, if I grew up in California, let's say in San Diego, then all of a sudden, I decided to become a gangster and go buy guns. Yes, this is idiotic. But for that region, it's normal. Today, looking back, of course, it was idiotic because I could have been killed easily. The guns got me in trouble.
[00:15:23] They got me in prison. I spent 16 months in Israeli prisons. I was tortured. I was beaten up by soldiers. I was deprivated from sleeping for months. I was tortured mentally and physically that I still have marks on my face from that torture. When I look back, it's really scary to just remember the minefield that I was walking in.
[00:15:49] But sometimes it's a blessing to go through a minefield not knowing it's a minefield. And when you get out, then you realize it was a minefield, otherwise probably you would have not survived.
[00:16:00] Jordan Harbinger: In the prison, what's going through your mind in there? Do you think you're going to be locked up in there forever?
[00:16:06] They're not being nice to you. Like you said, they're beating you up, they're torturing you, they're not letting you sleep. What are you thinking at age 18 when you're locked up like that? I just can't imagine it.
[00:16:14] Mosab Hassan Yousef: You know, it's very hard for any human language, actually, to convey a human feeling and a human experience at this depth, to really express pain and frustration and anger and confusion of why all is happening.
[00:16:31] On one hand, I was hurt a lot by my own society. As a child, I was abused. And as a child, I was hurt badly. Then I was beaten up by the parents and by the teacher and by the other kids in the streets. I was bullied. It was amazing to know that there's an external enemy, that I could blame everything on that enemy, which happened to be Israel.
[00:16:56] Then, you go on blaming Israel and now, you buy guns, and you want to kill Israelis to just express your anger and your hatred on one thing. For me, it's really like, of course, I can get emotional about it right now and it's like, “Oh, it's an unjust world. It's unfair.” But today I see it differently.
[00:17:17] I see it as the greatest school of my life, the brutality of the human society and the human societies, by the way, it just showed me something about my own nature. And I had to choose. Do I want to be like this image, or do I want to transform into a more refined, higher consciousness that can handle pressure, that can handle pain?
[00:17:43] So today, really hard for me to go back and recreate the blaming mentality, what they did to me in prison, what they did to me as a child, what they did to me at school. It's very hard for me to recreate honestly because without those events, I would have not been able to transcend actually man, to transcend the limitation of the human conditioning.
[00:18:12] Jordan Harbinger: In prison, I know you had to choose a faction, right? Hamas, PFLP, Palestinian Authority or PA, or something else. And you initially I guess agreed. How did it come to be that you agreed to collaborate with the Shin Bet, the Israeli internal intelligence service? Because that seems like a really hard choice to make after growing up in one place.
[00:18:34] And it's like, okay, I guess I'll be the worst thing that everyone considers, a collaborator. How do you make that choice?
[00:18:39] Mosab Hassan Yousef: Back in the 1990s, a couple of Hamas members succeeded in infiltrating the Israeli intelligence. They were double agents. They were heroes among the Hamas movement, like the most sophisticated because Hamas does not have intelligence.
[00:19:00] Like strong intelligence, like the Israeli intelligence, and to be actually able to fool the Israeli intelligence and double play them was like a really bad ass in the Palestinian street. So, everybody wanted somehow to do it. And I was just another idiot. We thought that I could actually fool the Israeli intelligence.
[00:19:23] So this is why I agreed to work with Israel with a hidden agenda or hidden intention is simply to be a double agent.
[00:19:32] Jordan Harbinger: Sure. Okay. That makes sense.
[00:19:34] Mosab Hassan Yousef: But what happened later, thousands of Hamas members were in prison. And now, Hamas didn't know how their members and their cells, and their secret operation was exposed by Israel.
[00:19:47] So they wanted to know who was actually, who were the rats. So, they started torturing their own people, anybody, any suspect. They would torture them brutally. And the peak of their torture was during the time when I was in prison. That was back in 1996, ‘97. Hundreds of prisoners were tortured. Dozens were killed.
[00:20:13] And the level of brutality of what they did to human beings exceeds anybody's imagination, and I don't exaggerate when I say this. Imagine putting needles under someone's fingernails, and just let them experience pain slowly for months to squeeze information from them as they scream.
[00:20:41] I remember they would just put a soap bar in a prisoner's mouth, then tie it with a towel on the outside, blindfolded. As you know, they burn plastic on their bare skin. Basically, this is what Hamas was doing in prison to any suspect who had any relationship with the Israeli intelligence. And here I am, I'm coming to prison with actually a relationship with the Israeli intelligence, but with no intention to spy on my own people or commit treason or betray them.
[00:21:15] I would never betray my father, for example. I told Hamas, “Hey guys, this is the situation. I had agreed to work for Israel, and I have some agendas.” He said, “Okay, write it down.” So, I write down the story to the Hamas security wing, and they came back with more questions. I said, “I don't have answers for those questions.”
[00:21:39] Like for example, who is your network? Did they give you a special device? What's your mission? And I told them simply, “The Israeli intelligence said, go to prison, spend your time. It's like a cover. After you're released, we will be in touch.” They did not give me a mission. They did not give me a device.
[00:21:58] They did not give me a network. They did not connect me to a handler. And that was the truth. Simply Hamas did not believe my narrative and did not fit their imagination. So, they start questioning and this is where I felt Hamas, my own father's organization, that we as a family sacrificed everything so it can live.
[00:22:23] Here I am face-to-face with this monster. I'm even telling them the simple truth, that I'm not a traitor. I stepped forward. They did not discover. I just came forward and I said, “Hey, I have a relationship. I established a relationship. In principle, I never did any mission for Israel, and I have a national agenda. I want to take revenge from those enemies of our society.”
[00:22:50] But Hamas did not believe it. And they start interrogating. Of course, my father was not there to protect me in prison. I became all of a sudden accused for nothing I did. And that was the moment where I saw Hamas’ true face, that they truly don't see Israel as the enemy.
[00:23:12] Also, I can be their enemy. Anybody else can be their enemy. Just disagree with them. Tell them a truth that isn't their truth, and they will hate you. They will interrogate you. They will torture you. This is what basically they were doing for many other prisoners. This is when I start having actually my doubt about other prisoners being tortured and killed.
[00:23:37] I know that I was innocent. And what if all these prisoners also were innocent people? Basically, as you see, I don't have like a simple answer to say yes or no. I go to work with Israel to take revenge from them. But somehow, like I end up working for them. To the Muslims, I pose as a Christian. To the Christians, I pose as a Muslim. To the Israelis as a Palestinian, to the Palestinians as Israeli agent.
[00:24:04] All the opposite extremes of life exist within my journey. For me, I learned how to swim against the current. Some people tell me, “Okay, so you cross the river to the other side, and was it greener on the other side?”
[00:24:23] I say, “The truth is, it wasn't greener. When I swam, I got to the other side, it was not greener.” But they said, “Then, what was the point? What was the point of departing?” I say simply, “I learned how to swim against the current in order for us to see and to know our higher potential. It doesn't matter where we came from.”
[00:24:49] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Mosab Hassan Yousef. We'll be right back.
[00:24:54] This episode is sponsored in part by Nutrisense. You know, the way our glucose levels fluctuate can seriously affect your daily vibe. I know that doesn't sound very science-y. But Jen and I jumped on the Nutrisense train, and now we get to see in real time how our levels react to food, workouts, stress. It's kind of cool. I eat, log it, scan this gadget on my arm with my phone, and bam, there's my glucose chart. So, the insights are actually quite surprising. I have said this before, but I thought a scoop of ice cream would be the culprit. No, it's like a latte or sushi that spikes it. I never would have imagined that. Now, I've been pretty religious about logging my meals. Jen, not so much, but Nutrisense gives her instant feedback after meals to get you on board. So, from a habit-forming perspective, it's really nice. And the app is super friendly. You snap your meal a photo, or you type it in and it's in the database. And then, they pair you with a legit nutritionist for the first month, which I loved. I could ping mine anytime in the app. I ate a bunch of sushi, and she's like, “Oh, your blood sugar spiked a little bit after that sushi dinner. Try adding sashimi or protein to level it out.” And that's what I do now. Which is, I had no idea that you could just do that. So, I've learned a ton about nutrition that way, without having to like Google and read white papers on it. Really shifted our food game. Jen and I have these little mini battles over who's rocking better glucose levels. Visit nutrisense.com/jordan for $30 off your first month, plus a free month of nutritionist support. That's nutrisense.com/jordan.
[00:26:14] This episode is also sponsored by Quince. Picking out gifts can be a total headache. I have found a game changer for my gift list this year. Quince. This place is like a goldmine for classics that'll stick around in your wardrobe for ages. They've got the essentials covered. Talking about real quality stuff like Mongolian cashmere sweaters starting at 59 bucks, sleek suede bomber jackets, cozy organic cotton sweaters that everyone needs when it gets nippy out. Nippy is my dad's favorite word for cold, by the way. And the kicker is, Quince's prices are amazing. 50 to 80 percent lower. So, this year, I'm spreading some of that Quince cashmere love around my inner circle. Get it straight from the top factories, skips the middleman, pass the savings on to us and the cherry on top, Quince is about ethical production. Top notch materials, quality you can feel. Jen ordered Quince's cashmere cardigan. Super premium grade A Mongolian cashmere. That's a lot of grading. That's a lot of adjectives. It's a wardrobe staple and a great gift idea.
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[00:27:16] Jordan Harbinger: If you're wondering how I managed to book all these amazing folks for the show, it is because of my network, and I know that sounds silly, but honestly, I managed to dig a former Israeli intelligence officer/Hamas operative out of the jungle to do this interview. So, I mean, I don't want to pat myself on the back too much, but there's some networking skills involved, or at least relationship building skills involved. That's what I'm teaching you how to do for free over on our Six-Minute Networking course jordanharbinger.com/ course is where you can find it. It's about digging the well before your thirsty, building relationships with people that are not — it's not going to be cheesy. It's not going to make you feel gross, not going to make them feel gross. And many of the guests on the show subscribe and contribute to that course. So come join us. You'll be in smart company where you belong. You can find the course at jordanharbinger.com/ course.
[00:28:00] Now back to Mosab Hassan Yousef.
[00:28:00] You'd said, “The world I knew was relentlessly eroding, beginning to reveal another world I was just beginning to understand. What the Israelis were teaching me was more logical and more real than anything I had ever heard from my own people.” This is, I guess, how you felt when you were first released, or while maybe you were still in prison with Loai, the Shin Bet officer, explaining that Hamas destroys itself more from the inside than anything Israel could do from the outside. But it sounds like you see that happening Everywhere.
[00:28:34] Mosab Hassan Yousef: It is happening everywhere. Yes, I experienced slavery. Yes, the Israelis wanted to provoke intelligence within me because they wanted me to be effective. They invested in me as a human being. I'm grateful to that. When talking about intelligence services, this has been actually or had been one of the biggest schools of my life, because somehow also we created reality.
[00:29:03] And I saw the creation of reality, what really creates public opinion and what really manipulates public's perception of a certain thing. We do something on the ground, then you see something on the media that is completely opposite of what we did on the ground.
[00:29:20] Then you start seeing the gap between truth and perception of truth. Of course, they invested me as individual, and they wanted me to go to school and finish university. And that was the first thing, and now I understand why, because I was much more effective that way.
[00:29:40] But also when we talk about the Israeli intelligence, it is a prison of its own. This type of organizations, forget about it, you go in and your chances to get out only as a corpse. They invested in you, counting that you would never find your way out. The truth at that level and the power that you experience within Israeli intelligence or any other intelligence service, we're talking about power, and we're talking about real intelligence, and we're talking about real creation like a huge orchestration that deceives politicians and media and average people.
[00:30:21] And you can create any scenario to anybody and make them believe in it, and they would believe in it. So, when I was playing at a very young age, and I start having a taste of that powerful game, this is what everybody's fighting for or thirsty for to experience power. But for me, it was another form of slavery.
[00:30:46] I did not like the fact that all that power that I was experiencing was just basically serving the agendas of politicians in a certain state, which I'm not against. I love Israel. I love Israel very much, and it will continue to be an inspiring model for me. Such a beautiful nation, such a beautiful people, and they inspire me.
[00:31:10] But I don't want to be for the rest of my life, or I did not want to be for the rest of my life as part of Israeli intelligence and a secret operation on daily basis. In the morning, something, in the afternoon, something, and in the evening, something else. The game of deception and the reverse psychology and all that the intelligence services do, it's effective and it works, but it's limited.
[00:31:36] I wanted just to try to convey the truth as is to my people, what I have learned, what I have learned as a child, what I have learned growing up, what I have learned from all the hardships that I had. And also, I did not want to cut the part, which was the part that would condemn me to execution, the death penalty, which was my affiliation with the Israeli intelligence.
[00:32:04] And that was the hardest part, but I needed to be honest with my people. They did not recognize my work with Israel. They did not reveal or expose me. I revealed myself and I stepped forward, and I told them this is the honest truth.
[00:32:18] I know now you're going to see me as a traitor. I know that you're going to crucify me for this, but you do it. But for me, I'm going to tell you the truth. If I fought 10 years to save human lives on daily basis, why should I be ashamed of it? Why should I be ashamed of it? Back to the point, I did not want to stay in the intelligence game, in the deception game for eternity.
[00:32:43] And I wanted to find my freedom. So, I got out. I got out to a higher truth, but also that was not fine.
[00:32:51] Jordan Harbinger: Why wouldn't they let you have relationships with women? I thought that was weird. You talk a lot about like, they're sort of going through some of the rules. First of all, it doesn't seem like they trained you at all.
[00:33:03] They just kind of like threw you out there and they basically only had a few rules. One of which was no relationships with women. What's up with that?
[00:33:12] Mosab Hassan Yousef: It's very strange to hear that the Israeli intelligence did not want an agent to have a relationship with a woman.
[00:33:19] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:33:20] Mosab Hassan Yousef: For them, they wanted me to always be and continue to be the Hamas member, the one who goes to the mosque, the one who follows the code of conduct of my society.
[00:33:33] Respect the God, respect the parents, don't cross the red lines, don't do something that is morally offensive through the eyes of that society. Even the very ones who were telling me the stories, disagree with that. But right now, they wanted me to be the perfect fit. They don't want me to hang out with women, which is not acceptable to the Arab and Muslim culture.
[00:33:58] It's a very conservative society. So, the Israeli intelligence understand the situation, and they don't want me to go and do something that is abnormal, something that is not acceptable by my own society. Then, if I lose my reputation, nobody would respect me.
[00:34:14] Then I would not have access to all the religious leaders, which basically were the very terrorists that we needed to establish relationships with them and to know what they are up to. I had a relationship, a secret relationship with a woman that I was in love with. But we really had to hide and go to a different town to just go out for lunch. It was a long journey, impossible one, even jump some fences. I had to risk my life to just go and meet with her.
[00:34:46] Jordan Harbinger: This is a Palestinian woman or were you dating an Israeli woman?
[00:34:50] Mosab Hassan Yousef: No, she was actually a Palestinian woman. And this is why, actually, what made the Israeli intelligence go against it. They, in fact, asked me not to hang out with this woman anymore. And I think they were right, because it was dangerous for the woman, and it was dangerous for me.
[00:35:05] She was very important to me, that I would not even — in that culture, it's very, very hard for women. If a woman hangs out with a man, and let's say it's like, for example, loses her virginity or something like that, she would never be able to marry again, and that's it.
[00:35:22] It's like, in that culture, unfortunately, and please forgive me for the comparison, but it's like a second-hand car, and it will always be like a second-hand car. Not like in the United States, it's like a divorced woman or a single woman, it's just a single woman, you know?
[00:35:37] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:35:38] Mosab Hassan Yousef: Single or in a relationship, you know? There are much more definitions of like, okay, this is virgin, this is not virgin. There’s 72 versions. It’s a big thing in that culture.
[00:35:49] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:35:50] Mosab Hassan Yousef: It's ridiculous. But again, this is the human delusion. But anyway, my personal life was not easy, but I managed somehow against the odds to enjoy moments of my early life as a youth, as a young man.
[00:36:04] And it was a very nice adventure. Today looking back, it's like and she's like, okay, there was love there, you know?
[00:36:11] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:36:12] Mosab Hassan Yousef: It's like, to go meet a woman, to jump the fence, and risk your life, and hide somewhere, and change your look, and do all the impossible just to spend with her like half-an-hour, and that's it. There was something, you know? But here we are, and I learned what I learned.
[00:36:33] Jordan Harbinger: You did uncover a lot of suicide bomber cells, terror cells, and I assume you had to be pretty careful because the Palestinian authorities, so the government of the Palestinian territories at that time, they had CIA eavesdropping gear that they could easily have used both against terrorists and against people who are collaborators, right?
[00:36:51] I mean, you must have really been kind of between a rock and a hard place, because Hamas now might be the authority in Gaza and the West Bank, but back then, it was not. So, you were being hunted by Israel, by the Palestinian police, by Hamas, by everybody. That must have been a lot of pressure.
[00:37:10] Mosab Hassan Yousef: Look all you have to do, everybody's looking for you, and simply just look with them. It's everybody's like, “Who is this mother*cker? Who is passing the information?” And you just ask the same questions, and if people are looking, just go with them and look for that person, and they would never figure out. I had a very good cover.
[00:37:34] As I told you before, it was like walking in a minefield, truly a minefield. I was not only a target for the Israeli intelligence. It was also CIA, it was also, all type of intelligence services in the region.
[00:37:50] When you are in the spotlight as the son of a top leader of the revolution, of all the chaos that's happening, and very close to decision making, and Yasser Arafat meetings and other top Fatah leaders and very close to Hamas military wing, and understand the culture and hang it out with basically top wanted, top terrorists in the region, from the bomb makers to the suicide bomber to the mastermind behind them, you become just a target for everybody.
[00:38:21] Of course, everybody is looking for you. Only a handful of people know who you are. Even within the Israeli intelligence, a handful of people knew about my existence. Even when I had, let's say, solid intelligence about for example, I had information about Hamas taking over the Gaza Strip one year before Hamas took over.
[00:38:41] I told the Israeli intelligence, “Hamas is going to take over Gaza. They are planning for this. They are building an army, underground army.” It did not make sense to them. They were like, “No. They won't be able to pull this together. Even if they had the intention to do so, they cannot do it. It’s impossible.”
[00:38:59] The Palestinian Authority is the 10 times the size of Hamas in Gaza Strip. They've got much more guns. They've got much more members, and they have the support of the whole world. Hamas wouldn't be able to take over the Gaza Strip and throw Fatah out. I told them, “Okay, if you say so.” They could have stopped it. They could have stopped it.
[00:39:20] And look now what happened and how many wars are happening Gaza Strip today. So sometimes, you just don't take seriously a piece of information. The reason I said this, at this level of intelligence, when you have solid information, it goes to the prime minister, for example.
[00:39:35] Now the prime minister does not see my name on the report. He would only see symbols. And if there was any piece of information that would lead to me, they would take it out or they would cross it out. So basically, even the report that goes to the head of the state, I would be totally coded, so they don't recognize who I was.
[00:39:57] This is how much the game was very serious, and my life was in danger. It’s like, if I get caught, I am done matter of seconds. That's it. I would be with a crowd, with a mob, a punch of militia, armed men waving with rifles with rage, angry, who the f*ck give the information. It would be me just right next to them, and you just need to trust, you know? Anything could happen. Anything.
[00:40:26] Jordan Harbinger: Were you lonely doing this? Like, you couldn't share your life with a woman, you couldn't tell any of your friends, you definitely couldn't tell your family, nobody other than your handlers in Shin Bet, so Israeli Intelligence. And even then, I mean, they're not your friends, they're people that you're working with.
[00:40:41] You can't just call them on Friday because you're feeling bored or alone or isolated, right? Was it lonely?
[00:40:47] Mosab Hassan Yousef: You know, this term lonely, it would be in a case if I now came to recruit you, Jordan, to just like, “Hey, I want to send you on a mission. Leave your wife, leave everything behind, and just go behind the enemy lines,” and it would be a totally strange culture, then maybe you would experience that.
[00:41:05] I was alone for sure, but I was still within my own culture, playing the same role that actually, the majority of my society wanted me to play. I just needed to be careful, so they didn't know the other roles that I had. When you do things like this, you need to understand the drive.
[00:41:23] If I was doing it for money, if I was doing it for revenge, if I was doing it for any other human thing, then I would have greater fear. But if you keep your compass that, the more I'm doing this, we are stopping suicide bombing attacks. Suicide bombing attacks lead to death. Then they lead to retaliation from the state.
[00:41:51] Then they lead to more chaos. And those people, by the way, the victims of suicide bombing attacks, not only Israelis, Arab Israelis, Muslims, Americans. Like the Hebrew University, for example, six Americans were killed, students at the cafeteria, on campus. I knew the people actually who sent those suicide bombers to carry the attack. One of them is Ibrahim Hamid. And I helped locate him, which was wanted for about eight years.
[00:42:24] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:42:25] Mosab Hassan Yousef: Now, he's spending life terms in Israeli prison. So, we're talking about high profile terrorists that did not only kill Israelis. They killed Americans, they killed all type of people. So now, when you have a new head of your eyes, in this very dangerous game, okay, all the money in the world is not going to give you security or give you comfort in that situation.
[00:42:45] Actually, even if you were paid, let's say millions, what are you going to do with the money? You live in a small town where all the eyes are on you. And even if you had all that money, you cannot spend it because you would be exposed immediately.
[00:42:57] In fact, the Israeli intelligence did not like the fact that they had access to money from other sources like the USAID or my father. They were very careful to tell me, “Careful how you spend the money that you take from your father. Because people might think that we are the ones giving you the money.”
[00:43:14] And it was basically Hamas giving me the money. So practically, it's a very dangerous thing. And what can keep one alive in such a situation is your moral compass. What are you fighting for? And now I'm such a small player in that game, but this small role that I'm having can save a human life. And this meant the world to me. This is why I was alone. But I was not lonely.
[00:43:45] Jordan Harbinger: You know that bombing at the Hebrew University cafeteria? I ate at that cafeteria every single day. And the bomb was probably about three feet away from where I used to sit every time. I had left Israel already, but I was a few months away from not being able to have this conversation, that's for sure, because it was right there in the French Hill, right?
[00:44:07] Mosab Hassan Yousef: Yes, yes, yes. Wow. Brother, I'm so glad that you are here, and we are talking. I'm so glad that eventually, Hamas military wing in the West Bank, the head of the Hamas military wing, which was Ibrahim Hamid, that was a very sophisticated operation, that I brought him back to justice.
[00:44:27] And I say it proudly. Of course, it's a team effort. But without the intelligence that somehow existence gave me, we would have not arrested him in time. So now, you tell him, it's like, thank God, I'm alive. Also, it was like, thank God, many others are alive. Because this man was brought to justice and was put in prison.
[00:44:51] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Mosab Hassan Yousef. We'll be right back.
[00:44:57] This episode is sponsored in part by BetterHelp. Picture this, you're sipping on hot cocoa, watching the snow fall, and boom! You remember that gift you forgot to buy. Cue holiday anxiety. But what if I told you there's a way to keep the cheer and ditch the fear? That's what BetterHelp is all about. It's a therapy service that's as convenient as online shopping, but a lot more fulfilling. You get matched with a therapist faster than you can say eggnog latte, and it's all from wherever you find yourself unwrapping those pesky inner thoughts. So, if the holiday tunes are starting to sound like a broken record, maybe it's time to change the track with BetterHelp. It's entirely online, designed to be convenient, flexible, and suited to your schedule. Just fill out a brief questionnaire to get matched with a licensed therapist. Switch therapists at any time, no additional charge.
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[00:47:02] Now for the rest of my conversation with Mosab Hassan Yousef.
[00:47:08] You knew you were pushing your luck, and it would eventually get caught, right?
[00:47:11] The Shin Bet, the IDF, they launched this massive, I guess, fake, but also totally real operation to arrest you. And the way you tell it in the book is they set up this operation to pretend to try and catch you, and it was like this massive special forces operation. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
[00:47:28] This is like the wildest thing that must, I mean, you have a lot of wild stories, but this is up there, for sure.
[00:47:33] Mosab Hassan Yousef: Gosh, man, you're opening those files from many years ago. I don't realize sometimes how old I am, you know.
[00:47:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, well, you and me both, man. You and me both.
[00:47:45] Mosab Hassan Yousef: So, basically, there was an operation, and I had access to five suicide bombers, potential suicide bombers.
[00:47:57] I knew their location, and it was a trick that I played on them somehow to just suspend their operation for about 48 hours. And they somehow listened to me, somehow listened to me. I put them in a safe house. And the Israeli prime minister decided within 30 minutes to bomb the entire building and just kill everybody in it.
[00:48:22] I did not want to be part of killing or assassinations because my motive was not revenge. I told my handler, “Listen, I don't want them dead.” But he said, “If you don't want them dead, they will mention your name during the interrogation, and truly assassinating them is the best way to keep your cover.”
[00:48:41] If they mention your name, you're done. Because you have to go to prison for a long period of time. And we cannot put you in prison for a long period of time. If you don't go to prison, how can you explain this to your parents and to the other movement? They would know that you are the one who gave the information.
[00:48:57] So, this is why it was very difficult, and they had to orchestrate one of the biggest plays to get me out of the situation, but also respect my request that I don't want them to be killed. They were just, by the way, 19 to 21-year-old young teenagers, basically. They didn't know what they were doing.
[00:49:19] So, they decided to arrest them instead of assassinating them. And what they were afraid of, happened. One of them, during the interrogation, in the first couple of days in the interrogation, he mentioned my name, that I was the one who helped them and gave them the house, and give them the gun, which was basically one of the tricks that I used to get into their world.
[00:49:44] Jordan Harbinger: You gave them guns, that was the trick?
[00:49:47] Mosab Hassan Yousef: It’s funny. I gave them a handgun, and I took a car full of explosives in return. It's a good trade, I think.
[00:49:54] Jordan Harbinger: I don’t know.
[00:49:56] Mosab Hassan Yousef: It was a crazy trade, because on one hand, I told them, “You cannot move around in a city full of intelligence services, full of army, full of IDF, Palestinian authority, with a stolen car full of explosives.”
[00:50:11] I made it about their safety, and I made it about the plan, and what's the right thing to do. I told them, “Listen, I keep the car, I put it in a safe place. And here is my gun.” I just hand him my handgun and I say, “You just use this in case you need something — to defend yourself, you need a gun. You don't need a car full of explosives.”
[00:50:33] And they kind of like the idea. Now, I kept them on a leash. Because if they go with a car, they might find someone else to help them or just decide suddenly to just blow it up and it's over. You just hear about it in the news. But if I have their explosive, they have to come back to me. And this is how we got in trouble.
[00:50:54] I received a phone call from my handler and say, “We have a situation. You need to go under the ground right away.” I was like, “What's going on?” He said, “They mentioned your name.” And he said, “We prevent them from visiting any attorney, or any family member, or anybody so the people don't know that your name has been mentioned.”
[00:51:15] This is what usually prisoners do. If they mention some member of the movement, name during interrogation, they would tell the lawyer that we mentioned the name of this activist, so the lawyer would go to their family and say, “Hey, your son's name has been mentioned. It's just a matter of time before they are arrested.”
[00:51:35] So now, they don't want Hamas or the outside world to know that my name was mentioned. First thing, they deported one of them, which was a Jordanian national back to Jordan immediately. This type of terrorist, potential suicide bomber with explosives on them, they would spend at least 15 years in Israeli prison.
[00:52:00] So now, they send one of them immediately back to Jordan, deported, no trial, nothing. His friends were like immediately, “How come he's just free two days later, back with his family?” And the kid was just celebrating with his family and not knowing the trap that he's in. Everybody in his own group thought that he was the traitor. So that was the first step but that's not enough that we framed someone else.
[00:52:29] The second one, basically, we totally framed an innocent person. The second step was to make me into a wanted person. I could not go to prison at that time because I was part of so many operations and relationships that we worked so hard to establish them with other terrorists, with other groups, with other dangerous people. To put me in prison, this means that we will lose all the leads that we have established over two years or so, so I had to be still in the field.
[00:53:03] They said, “The best way is to make you into a wanted person.” But they wanted that to be as real as it can get. So again, as I told you, only a handful of people in the Israeli intelligence knew about my existence. The army, the special forces, something similar to the Navy SEALs in the United States, they don't know about my existence.
[00:53:24] So now, those people have to act like they are going after an enemy. The Israeli intelligence give their own army and the special forces, the most wanted man's whereabouts, which in that case, me. “We want him alive or dead. Shoot him. Don't hesitate. He's a very dangerous man. He's affiliated with suicide bombers.” And that's the truth that they wanted the army to know.
[00:53:51] So when the army came in, they come with first of all, undercover agents, 50 of them or more, all dressed like civilian Palestinians, in civilian cars, Palestinian plates, surrounded the area. Before they got the okay to attack the house where I was supposed to be, my family's house, I got 30 seconds to get out of the house and make it look like an escape.
[00:54:16] So I got out of the house. The special forces on the ground got the green light from the intelligence that I am inside the house still. So, the special forces come, about five minutes out of that circle, there were a bunch of Merkava tanks.
[00:54:32] The Merkava tank is like, I think, 40 or 50 tons of steel. And when this thing turns on, the engine is much higher than airplane’s engine. And when you have 10 of them storming into the city, it's like an earthquake happening. So those were about like five minutes away and they start driving towards the city center, to my family's house.
[00:54:58] So it's like all this orchestration, it become like a war zone right now. My family right now is caught up in the fire. My family inside the house. And of course, my handler said, “Don't worry, we'll do everything within our ability that your family won't be hurt, but we want this to be real. We want you to look like a real wanted, otherwise, Hamas will kill you.”
[00:55:20] They came into the house. In the speakers, they called for my name. Of course, I'm not at the house, but the special forces have reliable intelligence that I'm inside the house. They don't know that they are also manipulated by their own intelligence. So, when I don't surrender, they evacuate my family first.
[00:55:41] Then, they get the green light from my handlers to shoot the house. They launched a missile into the house, and they sprayed bullets all over the wall. Like in my room, I had about 150 bullets just in the wall. And the militia groups right now, they start gathering and surrounding the special forces, creating another ring of fire, and shooting at the forces, and the forces shooting back at them.
[00:56:07] This is what brought the choppers. It became a war zone. Everybody in the city knew that I'm a dead man. My father, the Hamas leadership, even the suicide bombers that I was helping, everybody knew that I was in a deep trouble and Israel is not tolerating. And that gave me actually a very good cover in the city, but I had to act like a wanted man.
[00:56:34] I could not just become a wanted man and just lead a normal life. I had to actually become a wanted man. So, Hamas was actually — my father was very afraid for my life. And through his connections with the movement, he arranged with the Hamas people to give me some of their safe houses and hang out with other wanted people that we were looking for, for a long time.
[00:56:58] I end up hanging out at all the safe houses and knowing the locations of the most wanted people that we wanted. And this is how we cracked down the entire Hamas military wing in the West Bank responsible for 90 percent of the suicide bombing attacks during the Second Palestinian Intifada. So, that was the play.
[00:57:19] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Wow. That's a dangerous play though, right? You're almost getting a missile shot at you, or at least almost hit you, did get shot at you. There's bullets all over the place. But then you get this street cred as like a bad*ss terrorist and then they're schlepping you around to all of the safe houses to hobnob with all the most wanted.
[00:57:38] I mean, it's absolutely wild. I wonder though, you were already disillusioned with Hamas, but there's this one instance in the book or one incident in the book where it really looks like things went south. Hamas blew up a bunch of their own people at a rally and then blamed Israel. It was just they were showing off with a rocket launcher or something like that.
[00:57:58] What happened there? I mean, this whole thing is just such a cluster.
[00:58:02] Mosab Hassan Yousef: Look. Hamas, other terrorist movements, Palestinian movements, Palestinian leadership throughout this conflict, they never take responsibility for any of their actions. They want Israel to be responsible for all the problem in the Middle East.
[00:58:19] And this is to have a common external enemy that you export your internal crisis on, has been the method. This is the mechanism. And this is how they have survived so far. Hamas people used the Gaza children as human shield. Then they blamed their blood on Israel when they had even an incident where their own explosives blow up and killed Palestinian people.
[00:58:47] Of course, they couldn't be brave and honest enough to say, “We did it.” They wanted Israel to take responsibility for it. But how can we expect from such a dark organization without morality? It's beyond just nationalism. It’s like, okay. Many people in the United States, especially like my friends in the liberal camp also is like, they went like, “Okay. Justice for Palestinians.”
[00:59:14] It was just like, define Palestine. Define Palestinian. There is no such a thing. We're talking about dozens of rival parties, layer upon layer of darkness, of confusion, of ignorance, and you know who's crushed in between? The children and all the Palestinian factions with no exception, religious or secular, conservative or liberal, all of them put nationalism ahead of the children.
[00:59:46] And as long as they are thinking this way, they should be held accountable. They should be countered by any means. And this is what Hamas is doing. We cannot say it's like, okay, Palestinians. No, the children of Gaza are helpless. Hamas store missiles at schools, at hospitals, at mosques, and launch rallies with their homemade kitchen made missiles among thousands, hundreds of thousands of civilians.
[01:00:19] What's that? And when a mistake happens, they rush to blame Israel. That was really taking it too far. Just man up for one time in your history, just take responsibility and say, “It was us.” But they cannot. They cannot.
[01:00:37] Jordan Harbinger: I know you ended up leaving the Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence service. What happened?
[01:00:41] When was enough, enough? You just decided one day, “Hey, look, I've had it with this crap.” I mean, how did that thought process come about?
[01:00:48] Mosab Hassan Yousef: As I told you, this world of intelligence, the world of deception, also, it's not an easy world. Anybody, whether you work for FBI, for CIA, for KGB, for whatever it is. It's a very dangerous world.
[01:01:04] They call it intelligence world. And yes, there is intelligence to it, but it's a human intelligence. I think intelligent people eventually will find the higher intelligence and higher intelligence means live. Get out. But when you try to get out, they have something to lose, because if you still an asset, if you still has a juice in you, they want to squeeze you to the last drop. Excuse me for the expression, but this is what they want to do.
[01:01:32] I wanted to be the person I wanted to be, and that was not possible by just living a secret life with many secret identities and so many masks and hoods and all that. This is when I felt the necessity for me to get out because honestly, I cannot stop human madness. I cannot go in the head of every Palestinian or every terrorist and make them see the truth that I see. I cannot.
[01:02:03] If I see the truth, I needed to work on myself. I needed to transform myself. I needed to actually emancipate myself from all the things that I had witnessed, from all the experiences that I had. And that requires more freedom, that requires honesty, that requires to be truthful to who I am. Many people, of course, they tell me, “Why don't you just talk more about your adventure and about the lives? You saved many human lives.”
[01:02:30] But then it's like, what's the point, if you save so many human lives and you lose yourself in the process, you know? First, we need to be able to actually help ourselves, then we can help others. Even if we had an impact only on one person, we already have contributed a great deal towards humanity and towards consciousness.
[01:02:48] Jordan Harbinger: Tell me about the last conversation you had with your father when you told him about working for Israel.
[01:02:55] Mosab Hassan Yousef: I wanted him to hear from me. And again, in my silence in San Diego, California, back in 2007 and 2008, I decided that I wanted to document my journey. At that time. I didn't know that I could write a book.
[01:03:11] I didn't know that you could actually profit from a book. Or you could make money from a book, which many people, accuse me of creating a controversy, and it was like, for the sake of profit. For me, it was like, I have to document this story in case an accident happens to me, in case I die, in case I get assassinated. I don't know. Maybe the Israelis come after me, I have lots of government and state secrets.
[01:03:37] Maybe terrorist groups would come after me, maybe just simply an accident will happen. I don't want all this experience to just go in vain. I want it to be documented somehow, for maybe the next generation to read. I didn't think it would be published. But I wanted my father to hear from me, from my mouth, not from my book, not from others, and I wanted him to know the truth. So, I told him. I told him. I didn't know how I managed actually to tell him. It's just crazy, and what a shock. I was his right hand, I was his oldest son, I was his friend, the most trusted person that he had in his circle. I basically betrayed him.
[01:04:21] I betrayed him in order to save him. There was no way around it. There was no way around him to save him from himself. He would have had been assassinated a hundred times now. All his friends at the same level of the organization, all of them are gone. All of them are assassinated. None of them survived it.
[01:04:43] The Israeli politicians wanted him dead, and the army wanted him dead. The only thing that was stopping him from dying was me. Whether if he knows it or not, whether if he will recognize it, ever, it really doesn't matter. For me, he was my father, and I did not want him to die. I wanted him to know, “On one hand, I betrayed you. But on the other hand, I saved you.”
[01:05:06] And this is what makes it very, very hard for him. In fact, this is what makes it very hard for the Palestinian people. First of all, I was not against the Palestinian people and I'm still not against the Palestinian people. I'm against stupid ideas and the national ambitions and the sick beliefs. I am against all that, and I have no regrets to go against it.
[01:05:28] I wanted to tell him personally, and that happened. A few months later, the book came out. It had more details in it of how things happened. It was a great disappointment for him. But the truth is, by the way, I gave him the option to disown me, because I understood, even though he's a great leader of the society, if he keeps giving me cover in that culture, he would be participating with me.
[01:05:53] So, I told him, “Disown me,” and he told me, “This is not an option.” He told me, “You will always be my son, no matter what. You're part of me. You're my liver. You're my kidney. You're my heart. You're my soul. You're everything. I cannot disown you.” The eve of publishing the book, I hear it from the news, his statement. He made a statement, and he disowned me from his [unintelligible].
[01:06:19] So this gives you just another idea of where his heart is and where his mind is, and the vast ocean in between. But our greed and our political ambition continues to divide us. If it was able to divide my father and me, and we really loved each other, and I'm sure that we still do love each other and the bond between us cannot be broken.
[01:06:43] But still, for the public image, he has to go and tell the whole public, “This is not my son anymore. I don't know him. Kill him if you want.” How could you say that? And if you were forced to say this, what does that tell you about the nature of this entire conflict? What about unity?
[01:07:01] What about love? What about understanding? Whatever! There be peace in the Middle East if this is what happens for a father son relationship.
[01:07:10] Jordan Harbinger: Mosab, thank you so much. This has been really an amazing conversation. You're really open, forthright, and I'm glad we're friends. I have one final question for you though.
[01:07:20] They blasted Leonard Cohen all the time, very loud when you were in prison. Now you tell me your favorite artist was Leonard Cohen. How is that possible? You were 24/7 Leonard Cohen blasting in prison. They're torturing you. Now you listen to it in your car while you're driving around. I don't understand this. Of all the things you've told me, this is the hardest for me to get through my head.
[01:07:43] Mosab Hassan Yousef: Well, so many of my friends criticize me, and I was like, okay, oh, very depressing to listen to Leonard Cohen. He's actually not my favorite artist, but because how he was introduced to me, his thick voice, and loudspeakers, and I was sitting on a small chair being tortured in al-Masqoubiya, this is the Slaughterhouse in West Jerusalem.
[01:08:06] And Leonard Cohen's playing again and again and again, “First, we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.” But I had no idea what he was saying, because I did not understand English at that time, and I didn't even know who was the artist.
[01:08:22] So after I was released from prison, I kept looking, and I could not find. How would I know who to ask. I'm not going to go back like to al-Masqoubiya and be like, “What was the torture song that we were listening to?”
[01:08:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. “Can I borrow that CD?”
[01:08:37] Mosab Hassan Yousef: And one day I was listening to the radio and Leonard Cohen's song came up and I start shouting out loud, like, “Anybody knows who is this singer? Who is the singer?” A friend of mine mentioned, he said, “This is Leonard Cohen.” And I, “Leonard Cohen? Okay.” I took the name, I wrote it down, I was afraid that I would forget it. And I go and buy all his work, trying to find that song. This is how I got introduced to Leonard Cohen.
[01:09:06] Jordan Harbinger: You know, you'd think you would have been staying away from that music, but I guess if you've got an itch, a mental itch, you got to scratch it, right?
[01:09:13] Mosab Hassan Yousef: Yes, absolutely, absolutely.
[01:09:15] Jordan Harbinger: Mosab, thank you once again, man. This has been really, really an interesting conversation. Again, thanks for being so open. Thanks for taking the time. I know you're in the middle of nowhere and it was hard to track you down, but again, I'm glad we're friends now and I'm glad I got this story on tape.
[01:09:30] Mosab Hassan Yousef: Thank you, Jordan. I really appreciate it. Thank you very much and best of luck.
[01:09:35] Jordan Harbinger: I've got some thoughts on this episode, but before I get into that, here's a preview of my conversation with one of Al-Qaeda's most respected bomb and poison makers who swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden himself. Here's a quick listen.
[01:09:49] Aimen Dean: We took so many prisoners. 80 of them were taken to a clearing, and it was decided there and then that these people will have to pay for the crimes, of what they did. Seeing the bloodthirsty nature of people who just until a year ago, I used to see them as sweet, tender, decent, good people, suddenly basically became people who would use chainsaws, to dismember these people alive.
[01:10:14] How could one year in Bosnia, one year of ugly conflict turn these wonderful souls into ugly, bloodthirsty individuals? When I went to sleep that night, all I could think about was, how could I unsee what I've seen? None other than the mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he said to us, “You should go to Afghanistan where the training camps are reopening to become good at bomb making, to become good at urban warfare, to become good at assassinations, at kidnapping.” A new kind of war that will never be fought in the mountains anymore, but it'll be fought in every urban center from the pole to the pole.
[01:10:57] Suddenly, I thought that the nature of the war is changing from fighting in the mountains of Bosnia, I mean, basically we are talking about gassing people in cinemas and nightclubs and trains. Of course, that was unsettling, but I thought this is just the ranting of one insane individual.
[01:11:13] Al-Qaeda carried out its first serious attack against American interests. Everyone was jubilant in the camps. They were firing bullets into the air in celebration and shouting, “Allahu Akbar.” We are no longer just a bunch of freedom fighters. We are now bona fide terrorists.
[01:11:34] Jordan Harbinger: To hear why and how Aimen Dean eventually switched sides from being a jihadi to spending eight years as an MI6 spy, trying to take Al-Qaeda down from the inside, check out episode 383 on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:11:50] This has turned into quite a mess, not just the conflict, but the media and information landscape around it. And I see a lot of people who are just out of control and talking out of both ends or the wrong end on a lot of this. You can criticize Israel without supporting Hamas. That shouldn't be controversial, but apparently it is.
[01:12:08] Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organization bent on eliminating the Jews. I know that they updated their charter recently to tone that stuff down, but actions speak louder than words, and their original charter is probably what they really meant. When somebody tells you who they are, believe them, especially when they're terrorists.
[01:12:23] Also, key to remember here is the immense amount of innocent Palestinian civilians caught up in this reaction to October 7th. This loss of life is staggering and unjustified. Even if some people think this collateral damage is unavoidable or even somehow necessary, it is hard to overstate how horrible this really is for people on the ground.
[01:12:46] And you'd really, no matter what side you're on, I think you can be pro civilian and anti-Hamas, and I'm going to come back to that a few times during my rants here on this episode. I want to suggest to folks that maybe you don't need to have a side in this information and propaganda war. You can be, instead, on the side of innocent civilians and wanting to prevent further loss of life.
[01:13:09] But it doesn't mean that you're going to be right about the approach one needs to take to avoid that loss of life. Some people think, the best way to avoid loss of life is to completely wipe out Hamas with military force the way that it's happening now. Other people think that a ceasefire is the best approach.
[01:13:24] You can be on the side of innocent civilians; it doesn't mean you're going to be right about the approach. Palestinian civilians, of course, are the ones who are suffering the most right now. Hamas doesn't care about this. This is a feature, not a bug. Stakeholders in Hamas are in, essentially, a death cult.
[01:13:40] And/or living in Qatar and Iran, enjoying their billions of dollars that they have pilfered from Palestinian people and the international community. They are not on the ground in Gaza, suffering like the people that they claim to support. There have been a lot of events that have been reported very crappily by the media.
[01:13:57] One comes to mind, this hospital rocket explosion where they said they leveled a hospital and 500 people are dead. This turned out to be largely nonsense. The missile was a misfire from Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It landed in the parking lot and suddenly when people were able to prove that, the death toll went way down.
[01:14:12] This kind of stuff is a win-win for Hamas because they can blame Israel, and then even if they're the ones who did it or their affiliates did it and everyone knows later on, civilians died. People will still blame Israel. The PR victory is there, and the damage is done. So even if you're ardently anti-Israel, you should also be as ardently anti-Hamas.
[01:14:32] Supporting Hamas because you care about Palestine is like supporting the Taliban because you care about Afghanistan. It's not the caring about Afghanistan or the caring about Palestine part that's problematic. It's who you support in the mission of doing so. Hamas is not pro Palestine. They're just anti-Israel.
[01:14:49] The distinction here is very important. It should, of course, go without saying that Hamas is not the same as Palestine, and militant terrorists are not the same as Palestinians. To add, there should be no rush to be right or correct when it comes to events in this conflict, especially new events that pop up in the media.
[01:15:06] No one is going to give you a medal for your correct signaling on this stuff. There's nothing wrong with waiting for sources outside the two hostile parties who have a vested interest in lying about their adversary. Also, consider that you might not need to have a strong opinion for or against one side or another.
[01:15:23] Consider that you can condemn the deaths of innocent people on both sides instead of wanting one side to brutalize the other. Furthermore, I would say, look, if you're professional or you're young, I would implore you to be even more considered in your opinions on these issues and perhaps realize that you don't need to express them publicly at all.
[01:15:44] I'm not saying you shouldn't take a moral stance on this. What I am saying, is perhaps your LinkedIn profile or other social media is perhaps the worst place to have this kind of dialogue, if you can even call it that. You get all the drawbacks of angering those around you who disagree, endangering your business, scaring away, or alienating clients, making sure that it's harder to hire you later on down the line and damaging your career, and you get none of the benefits of actually exchanging ideas with people in good faith, or in a way that increases one another's understanding of this conflict.
[01:16:18] Again, this is an information war. Anyone forming immediate opinions and sharing rumors based on the latest clickbait headlines and social media posts is being weaponized in this war. Don't allow yourself to become part of the problem.
[01:16:31] Of course, many people have asked me what I think about Israel's response to October 7th. Israel, in my opinion, made a huge set of mistakes here. If people had nothing else to report on but the Hamas massacre for the last month and change, we’d be having very different conversations about Palestine and Israel in this conflict.
[01:16:50] The Israeli victims and their families would be getting vigils worldwide, and those who celebrated Hamas on the streets would be properly vilified. Now, it's an afterthought to the rest of the world. Hamas was never going to get infantry back over the border after that. This was a time for exposing evil, telling each victim's story, improving their ties with the rest of the Arab world, getting some of their hostages back due to pressure on Hamas, if that could even be effective.
[01:17:14] This would have deprived oxygen to the flame that is Hamas. Yet, revenge, which is a lot of what we're seeing now, I know that there's some tactics here, it's debatable whether this is zero percent revenge or 60 percent revenge, okay, no matter how justified one might think revenge is, this has squandered the opportunity here that Israel had, in my opinion.
[01:17:34] Not only is it an injustice to the memory of the victims, it's creating so many more victims and so many more terrorist sympathizers and actual terrorists, I'm sure, as a result of killing so many dang civilians. Now, some people will say, “But Israel created Hamas.” I want to address this because I was shocked to hear that.
[01:17:54] And it turns out it's just not true. So, I did a bit of a dive on this with historians actually, and the predecessors to Hamas were an alternative at the time, back in the ‘70s and ‘80s to the PLO, Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Organization, which was militant and violent then and was killing people and hijacking planes.
[01:18:13] Hamas, the precursors to Hamas, was far more political. This of course changed later into the Hamas that we see today. Early days predecessors to Hamas were a new alternative to the PLO, which was probably more promising than simply trying to work with the PLO, keep getting nowhere, keep getting attacked.
[01:18:30] At the time, as I mentioned, PLO was militant. Precursors to Hamas were not militant, but they did provide social services. So, yes. People who say that Israel created Hamas, they're often misinformed or they're frankly just trying to mislead you into thinking Israel created Hamas in 1984, so they'd have some excuse to bomb Gaza in 2023, and that is just not accurate.
[01:18:51] In much of the world right now, there seems to be very little room for nuanced debate, and no matter which direction you're coming from, I really have to beg you to remember that there are human beings involved in this. This is what we need to remember if we are going to find any sort of end to this conflict in the next several years, peaceful or otherwise.
[01:19:12] I'm not sure how hopeful I am for this right now, but I think it is a damn shame that we find ourselves tribalized on this when most of us are frankly quite uninformed. This is a war. It is going to be bloody. None of that excuses civilian deaths or collateral damage. But it is reality, and that reality is extremely unfortunate, and I think, and I hope that we can do better.
[01:19:35] As you can see in this conflict, I'm not really taking one side. I'm anti-Hamas. That's clear. I'm pro civilian. That's clear. But everything else is quite nuanced. And it seems like that nuance is lost on a lot of people. I'm especially appalled by pro Hamas. And I don't mean pro Palestine. I mean, pro Hamas sentiment on college campuses and among the left wing, especially.
[01:19:56] I know that if you're on the left, you're like, “I don't support Hamas.” I'm not talking about you, obviously. I'm talking about the people you know that have similar political beliefs that are pro Hamas. It's not that hard to make a distinction. Hamas leaders in 1993 were recorded on a wiretapped conversation stating that their goal was to deceive the American public into supporting Hamas by appealing to the American left's denouncement of oppression.
[01:20:18] Mousa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, literally formed a far-left academic think tank. It's called the United Association for Studies and Research, UASR, based out of Chicago. And their goal is to start disseminating this deception. The organization has ties to Duke, Johns Hopkins, Fordham, University of Maryland, just to name a few major universities.
[01:20:37] So in other words, this information war, it's not something that started on October 7th. It's not something that started 10 years ago. This is something that has been taking place over the course of the last 30 years and beyond.
[01:20:48] So that should scare you a little bit, that people are trying to influence. And I'm not saying that only Hamas does this. We see influence and lobbying from all sides here, but I think to be deceptive about it, instead of, there's a difference between advertising your product and lying about what your product is.
[01:21:06] And I think that's a very important distinction here when we're talking about human lives and civilian human lives, for that matter. So, as you can see, the situation is nuanced. But I hope we can all agree that terrorism, no matter what form that takes, is not the answer. And jihadis are not looking out for anyone but themselves and their religious zealotry.
[01:21:25] That part is extremely dangerous, extremely concerning, and it's extremely disheartening to see the moral confusion that has overtaken many of us, both online and in person, since the start of this conflict. Anyway, I hope that cleared some things up for people instead of just making this far more confusing.
[01:21:43] It's very difficult to cover this, and not take a side on one issue and then take the opposite side on the other. It's very, very hard to have nuanced conversations about this. It's very hard to cover any of this without getting death threats in my email inbox from one side or another. And so, if you like this, definitely reach out and tell me why.
[01:22:01] And if you hated it, well, you don't have to tell me that you're going to kill me in an email. You can just email me and tell me what you don't like about the episode. Dialogue. Who’d a thunk it?
[01:22:11] All things Mosab will be in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com or ask the AI chatbot on the website. Transcripts always in the show notes as well. Advertisers, deals, discount codes, and ways to support the show all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support the show.
[01:22:26] We've also got our newsletter and every week the team and I dig into an older episode of the show. We dissect lessons and takeaways from it. So, if you are a fan of the show. And you want a recap of important highlights and takeaways, or you just want to know what to listen to next. The newsletter is a great place to do that. Jordanharbinger.com/news is where you can find it.
[01:22:41] And Six-Minute Networking, don't forget about that over at jordanharbinger.com/course. I'm @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.
[01:22:50] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. So, if you know somebody who's interested in this conflict, interested in learning more about Hamas, interested in conversations like this, definitely share this episode with them. In the meantime, I hope you apply what you hear on the show so you can live what you learn, and we’ll see you next time.
[01:23:20] This episode is sponsored in part by What Was That Like Podcast. What does it feel like to watch your house burn down, be attacked by an alligator, or learn that your spouse hired someone to kill you? If you're dying to know, then What Was That Like is the podcast for you. What Was That Like is filled with real stories about the most surreal experiences of people's lives. On the show, host Scott Johnson dives deep with his guests into the unbelievable situations they found themselves in. Animal attacks, plane crashes, winning The Price Is Right and more, this show brings you tons of completely surreal, completely true stories, all told through the lens of the person who experienced it. Check out some of these wild and gripping stories to gain some insight on what it was like to lose a leg to a shark attack and what it was like to be a professional bridesmaid. Totally fascinating episodes. So, if you want to hear some disturbing and inspiring firsthand stories, you need to check out What Was That Like. Every story is thoroughly researched and fact checked so you know even the most bizarre tales are someone's reality. Listen to What Was That Like on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
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