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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Book Preview: Son of hamas_chapter one

Cover
To my beloved father and my wounded family
To the victims of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict
To every human life my Lord has saved


My family, I am very proud of you; only my God can understand what you have been through. I realize that what I have done has caused another deep wound that might not heal in this life and that you may have to live with its shame forever.

I could have been a hero and made my people proud of me. I knew what kind of hero they were looking for: a fighter who dedicated his life and family to the cause of a nation. Even if I was killed, they would have told my story for generations to come and been proud of me forever, but in reality, I would not have been much of a hero. Instead, I became a traitor in the eyes of my people. Although I once brought pride to you, I now bring you only shame. Although I was once the royal prince, I am now a stranger in a foreign country fighting against the enemy of loneliness and darkness.

I know you see me as a traitor; please understand it was not you I chose to betray, but your understanding of what it means to be a hero. When Middle Eastern nations—Jews and Arabs alike—start to understand some of what I understand, only then will there be peace. And if my Lord was rejected for saving the world from the punishment of hell, I don’t mind being a reject! I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that I am not afraid. And now I want to give you something that has helped me to survive so far: all the guilt and shame I have carried for all these years is a small price to pay if it saves even one innocent human life.

How many people appreciate what I have done? Not so many. But that’s okay. I believed in what I did and I still believe, which is my only fuel for this long journey. Every drop of innocent blood that has been saved gives me hope to carry on to the last day. I paid, you paid, and yet the bills of war and peace continue to come. God be with us all and give us what we need to carry this heavy weight.

With love,
Your son
Available on CD as Audio Book


 
chapter one

I steered my little white Subaru around a blind corner on one of the narrow roads that led to the main highway outside the West Bank city of Ramallah. Stepping lightly on the brake, I slowly approached
one of the innumerable checkpoints that dot the roads running to and from Jerusalem. “Turn off the engine! Stop the car!” someone shouted in broken Arabic. Without warning, six Israeli soldiers jumped out of the bushes and blocked my car, each man carrying a machine gun, and each gun pointed directly at my head.
Panic welled up in my throat. I stopped the car and threw the keys through the open window.
“Get out! Get out!”
Wasting no time, one of the men jerked open the door and threw me to the dusty ground. I barely had time to cover my head before the beating began. But even as I tried to protect my face, the heavy
boots of the soldiers quickly found other targets: ribs, kidneys, back, neck, skull.
Two of the men dragged me to my feet and pulled me to the checkpoint, where I was forced onto my knees behind a cement barricade. My hands were bound behind my back with a sharp-edged
plastic zip tie that was cinched much too tight. Somebody blindfolded me and shoved me into the back of a jeep onto the floor. Fear mingled with anger as I wondered where they were taking me and
how long I would be gone. I was barely eighteen years old and only a few weeks away from my final high school exams. What was going to happen to me?
After a fairly short drive, the jeep slowed to a halt. A soldier pulled me from the back and removed my blindfold. Squinting in the bright sunlight, I realized that we were at Ofer Army Base. An Israeli defense
base, Ofer was one of the largest and most secure military facilities in the West Bank. As we moved toward the main building, we passed by several
armored tanks, which were shrouded by canvas tarps. The monstrous mounds had always intrigued me whenever I had seen them from outside the gates. They looked like huge, oversized boulders.
Once inside the building, we were met by a doctor who gave me a quick once-over, apparently to make sure I was fit to withstand interrogation.
I must have passed because, within minutes, the handcuffs and blindfold were replaced, and I was shoved back into the jeep.
As I tried to contort my body so that it would fit into the small area usually reserved for people’s feet, one beefy soldier put his boot squarely on my hip and pressed the muzzle of his M16 assault rifle
into my chest. The hot reek of petrol fumes saturated the floor of the vehicle and forced my throat closed. Whenever I tried to adjust my cramped position, the soldier jabbed the gun barrel deeper into
my chest.
Without warning, a searing pain shot through my body and made my toes clench. It was as if a rocket were exploding in my skull. The force of the blow had come from the front seat, and I realized that
one of the soldiers must have used his rifle butt to hit me in the head. Before I had time to protect myself, however, he hit me again, harder this time and in the eye. I tried to move out of reach but the soldier who had been using me for a footstool dragged me upright. “Don’t move or I will shoot you!” he shouted. But I couldn’t help it. Each time his comrade hit me, I involuntarily recoiled from the impact.
Under the rough blindfold, my eye was beginning to swell closed, and my face felt numb. There was no circulation in my legs. My breathing came in shallow gasps. I had never felt such pain. But worse than the physical pain was the horror of being at the mercy of something merciless, something raw and inhuman. My mind reeled as I struggled to understand the motives of my tormentors. I understood
fighting and killing out of hatred, rage, revenge, or even necessity. But I had done nothing to these soldiers. I had not resisted. I had done everything I was told to do. I was no threat to them. I was
bound, blindfolded, and unarmed. What was inside these people that made them take such delight in hurting me? Even the basest animal kills for a reason, not just for sport. I thought about how my mother was going to feel when she learned that I had been arrested. With my father already in an Israeli prison,
I was the man of the family. Would I be held in prison for months and years as he had been? If so, how would my mother manage with me gone too? I began to understand how my dad felt—worried about
his family and grieved by the knowledge that we were worrying about him. Tears sprang to my eyes as I imagined my mother’s face. I also wondered if all my years of high school were about to be
wasted. If I indeed was headed for an Israeli prison, I would miss my final exams next month. A torrent of questions and cries raced through my mind even as the blows continued to fall: Why are you doing this to me? What have I done? I am not a terrorist! I’m just a kid.
Why are you beating me like this?
I’m pretty sure I passed out several times, but every time I came to, the soldiers were still there, hitting me. I couldn’t dodge the blows.
 
The only thing I could do was scream. I felt bile rising in the back of
my throat and I gagged, vomiting all over myself.
I felt a deep sadness before losing consciousness. Was this the end?
Was I going to die before my life had really even started?

Mosab Hsassan Yousef
 
 http://sonofhamas.com/

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