Mosab Hassan Yousef
Today, he resides in San Diego, California; a Christian evangelical convert. It appears that earlier this year, he decided to go public with his conversion, as a means to help Palestinians and the "messed up" situation with the Middle East and Islam. This has put his family back home in a difficult predicament since they are quite famous and respected amongst Muslims.
Mr Yousef said that his father, who has spent more than a decade in Israeli jails for his involvement with Hamas, was in prison when he "got the worst news in his life" - that his son had become a Christian and left Ramallah. "But at the same time he sent me a message of love.al-Qaeda has already issued a death sentence on him.
"Everybody is asking him to disown me. You understand if he disowns me he will give terrorists a chance to kill me. "He loves me as a son and he believes that what I've done was something I believed in, but at the same time it's very difficult for him to understand and he won't be able to understand."
Many saw him as heir apparent to his father, who retains great influence both within Hamas and in Palestinian society, winning election to the Palestinian Legislative Council in January 2006 from his prison cell.
But Mr Yousef said that his questioning of Islam and Hamas began early. His father, a pragmatist who has even suggested Hamas would be willing to talk to Israel under certain conditions, would often accept his concerns, such as the targeting of civilians.
Mr Yousef said that his doubts about Islam and Hamas crystallised when he realised not all Hamas leaders were like his father, a moderate who he describes as "open-minded, very humble and honest".
Mr Yousef said that he was appalled by the brutality of the movement, including the suicide bombers seeking glory through jihad.
"Hamas, they are using civilians' lives, they are using children, they are using the suffering of people every day to achieve their goals. And this is what I hate," he said.
It was after a chance encounter nine years ago with a British missionary that Mr Yousef began exploring Christianity.
He found it "exciting", he said, and began secretly studying the Bible, struck by the central tenet "love your enemies".
Nevertheless he does not advocate the "collapse of Islam", but rather for people to acknowledge that after 1,400 years "it's not working any more".
He said: "It's not taking them anywhere. It's making them look ugly."
Jonathan Hunt interview:
JONATHAN HUNT: What specific event or events began to change your mind about Islam?
MOSAB HASSAN YOUSEF: When I was 18 years old, and I was arrested by the Israelis and was in an Israeli jail under the Israeli administration, Hamas had control of its members inside the jail and I saw their torture; (they were) torturing people in a very, very bad way.
JONATHAN HUNT: Hamas members torturing other Hamas members?
MOSAB HASSAN YOUSEF: Hamas leaders! Hamas leaders that we see on TV now, and big leaders, responsible for torturing their own members. They didn't torture me, but that was a shock for me, to see them torturing people: putting needles under their nails, burning their bodies. And they killed lots of them.
JONATHAN HUNT: Why were they torturing people?
MOSAB HASSAN YOUSEF: Because they suspected that they had relations with the Israelis and (were) co-operating with the Israeli occupation against Hamas ... So hundreds of people were victims for this, and I was a witness for about a year for this torture. So that was a huge change in my life. I started to open my (eyes), but, the point (is) that I got that there are good Muslims and bad Muslims. Good Muslims, such as my father, and bad Muslims, like those Hamas members in the jail torturing people.
So that was the beginning of opening my eyes wide.~~~
JONATHAN HUNT: Tell me about Hamas and the way it works. Is Hamas a purely Islamic religious organization as you see it, and that's where, in your eyes, its faults lie, or are there other parts of it which are a problem for you? Or is Hamas a good organization? What is Hamas to you?
MOSAB HASSAN YOUSEF: If we talk about people, there are good people everywhere. Everywhere. I mean, good people that God created.
Do they do their own things? Yes, they do their own things. I know people who support Hamas but they never got involved in terrorist attacks, for example ... They follow Hamas because they love God and they think that Hamas represents God. They don’t have knowledge, they don't know the real God and they never studied Christianity. But Hamas, as representative for Islam, it's a big problem.
The problem is not Hamas, the problem is not people. The root of the problem is Islam itself as an idea, as an idea. And about Hamas as an organization, of course, the Hamas leadership, including my father, they're responsible; they're responsible for all the violence that happened from the organization.~~~
JONATHAN HUNT: Do you believe that Israel can ever strike a peace deal with Hamas?
MOSAB HASSAN YOUSEF: There is no chance. Is there any chance for fire to co-exist with the water? There is no chance. Hamas can play politics for 10 years, 15 years; but ask any one of Hamas' leaders, 'Okay, what's going to happen after that? Are you just going to live and co-exist with Israel forever?' The answer is going to be no ... unless they want to do something against the Koran. But it's their ideology and they can't just say 'We're not going to do it.' So there is no chance. It's not about Israel, it's not about Hamas: it's about both ideologies. There is no chance.