By Mick Krever, CNN
Mosab Hassan Yousef was supposed to be a leader of Hamas.
His father, Hassan Yousef, is a founder of the militant organization and was its leader in the West Bank – but after being picked up by Israeli intelligence, he was turned, and became an Israeli spy.
“They disowned me,” Yousef told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday. “Since that moment we have not spoken.”
“I did make some choices under difficult circumstances, and I believe that they were the perfect choices.”
His incredible story – and that of the Shin Bet agent who turned him – is the subject of a new documentary, The Green Prince.
“When I read Mosab's book, ‘A Son of Hamas,’ it was an eye-opener because I realized how little we actually know about Hamas,” director Nadav Schirman said.
“Hamas we know from snippets in the news, we know from, you know, really, headlines. But there is no in-depth literature or films available. And what was fascinating is that Mosab was the son of the top Hamas leader; so he comes from that culture.”
“He was groomed to be the next Hamas leader. And how his consciousness changed and evolved in the process of working with Israel, which was his worst enemy at the time – it's fascinating.”
In the film, Yousef says that to collaborate with Israel “is the most shameful thing” someone can do in the culture he comes from – worse, even, than “if somebody raped his mother.”
“When I started working for Israel, I was motivated by revenge, because they arrested my father at very young age and I was motivated by lots of hatred.”
“Down the road, I [started] to have a different realization – that we are the same; we have the same struggles.”
“Now if the Israeli intelligence had different agendas, that's their problem.”
“But then my eyes [started] to open that a suicide bomber does not differentiate between an American or Israeli or Christian or a Muslim. He does not care for his own life. And they needed to be stopped.”
Gonen Ben Yitzhak, the Shin Bet agent who turned Yosuef, says that turning a detainee is an art – one that involves finding his or her weak points.
“Gonen started off as really as a manipulator. He wanted to use Mosab for the benefit of the government, of the system he was working for,” Shirman said.
“Ultimately, Gonen turned against the Shin Bet, turned against his own system. He took a great risk to trust Mosab. Mosab took a great risk to trust Gonen. And they worked outside their systems and – which is extraordinary.”
Yousef eventually renounced his Muslim faith and converted to Christianity. With the rise of an extreme fundamentalist, and militant, Sunni organization – ISIS – Amanpour asked what he thinks when he sees “these mutations of Islam, hijacking whole societies and whole worlds.”
“I believe that the problem itself is in the Islamic books. And those guys are inspired by the Islamic teachings.”
“If you look at the example of the Prophet of Islam – and I don't mean to insult anybody – you know, he beheaded people. He used a sword. He launched military campaigns. And those people think by following his footsteps, they are going to establish an Islamic state and emancipate humanity, even though they're destroying it.”
The solution, he said, lies in people understanding how destructive to humankind violence is.
“Tolerance, understanding, dialogue, and forgiveness are the only ways for us to survive.”