EXCLUSIVE: David Aaron Cohen has signed on to adapt Son of Hamas, the bestselling memoir that Mosab Hassan Yousef wrote with Ron Brackin. The project has been set up independently and will be produced by Richard Harding and Sam Feuer of Sixth Sense Productions, and Southpaw Entertainment’s Richard Lewis. Development is being financed by The Shea Family Foundation, whose Darin Shea and will be exec producing with Dennis Baker. Southpaw’s Gabrielle Jerou will coproduce.
In Son Of Hamas: A Gripping Account Of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue And Unthinkable Choices, Yousef describes growing up in the Palestinian West Bank as the son of a founding leader in the terrorist organization Hamas. He followed in his father’s footsteps, and was imprisoned and tortured several times by Israeli’s intelligence service Shin Bet. There, he saw Hamas was torturing its own as it tried to root out traitors. While that prompted him to question his loyalties, Yousef was approached by Shin Bet to spy for Israel. While he expected to betray the spy agency and protect his father and family, Yousef eventually became a Christian who used his position to save lives on both sides of the conflict over 10 years of working as an intelligence asset for the Israeli government while serving side by side with his father in the top ranks of Hamas. He eventually walked away from his family and sought political asylum in America.
Cohen, whose script credits include Friday Night Lights and The Devil’s Own, said he has seen espionage thrillers where the motivation was revenge, love or political convictions, “but I had never seen one where a guy makes the choice to give up everything, including his family and country, because he has this idea about making peace with his enemies. When he called his dad to tell him he’d converted to Christianity, his father told him, you’ll always be my son, but when an article was coming out about his double life and he called his father to tell him, the family disowned him,” Cohen said. “His father and seven brothers and sisters won’t speak to him.” CAA brokered the book deal, and Cohen is repped by APA and Manage-Ment.