Missing Peace | missingpeace.eu | EN

What really killed Yasser Arafat

By Missing Peace
Arafat on his way to a French hospital days before he diedArafat on his way to a French hospital days before he died

Last week mainstream media reported that Swiss scientists had come to the conclusion that former PLO leader Yasser Arafat died of Polonium 210 poisoning.

The 108 page report released by the Swiss Forensic Medicine  Institute was quickly interpreted by the Palestinian media and PA leaders as evidence that finally the ‘smoking gun used by Arafat’s murderer’ had been discovered.

Here is for example what Al Quds News wrote (translation):

Swiss Forensic Medicine Institute: someone assassinated President Arafat with “polonium”

Swiss scientists revealed the presence of radioactive polonium in the remains of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat amid estimates that he was poisoned. The scientists found by examining samples of the remains of Arafat amounts up to double the normal of radioactive Polonium, raising suspicion that he was poisoned by this material to 83%. According to a 108 pages report by the University Centre for forensic medicine in Lausanne, unnatural amounts of polonium were found in Arafat’s hips and ribs and in the soil beneath his body.

Suha Arafat, widow of the late Palestinian President, received a copy of the Swiss report on Tuesday with the presence of her lawyer Saad Jabbar and British forensic scientist David Barclay who came to explain the report’s content. Barclay said that “these results confirm that Arafat died poisoned by polonium,” adding that “what was found is a smoking gun, the gun which killed Arafat, we still don’t know who was holding the gun at the time of the crime.” Suha Arafat said “the results of the Swiss examination show that her husband was killed and that a crime was committed,” adding that “the next step for the French investigators is to continue the investigation to uncover the killer.” (http://www.qudsn.ps/article/32454)

This looks pretty convincing right?  Scientists who reveal the presence of Polonium in the remains of Arafat and a British forensic expert who says that the results confirm that Arafat died of poisoning by Polonium.

But a closer look at the interpretations of the Swiss report by the media and the conclusions reached by Al Quds show a different picture.

For example the British expert cited by Al Quds is in fact a commentator hired by the Arab television network Al Jazeerah which is well known for its biased reporting. Al Jazeerah earlier broadcasted a program about the poisoning conspiracy that prompted the first foreign investigation (France) into Arafat’s death

Furthermore conspiracy theories about Arafat’s death cause have been around in Palestinian society from the time of his passing. Israel has been accused of attempting to assassinate the Palestinian leader even before his death.

Also now Tawfik Tirawi, who heads the investigation into Arafat’s death for the Palestinian Authority, said after the publication of the Swiss report that Israel was the prime suspect of being the perpetrator of the poisoning.

Over the weekend however other scientists have come to different conclusions about the possibility that Arafat was indeed poisoned by Polonium 210.

Junk science

Brian Thomas writing for The Times of Israel calls the story “junk science”.

Here are his conclusions:

“With the most amazing measuring equipment, in the most physically shielded room possible, you couldn’t find a piece of radioactive Polonium-210 eight years after it was made. Looking for some in an exhumed body or belongs is astonishing.

The decay products of Polonium-210 are not uncommon enough to look for either.

There’s no way on earth this lab found anything scientifically significant in the corpse of Arafat (hence their very cagy language).

Arafat died of natural causes, Aids or something else: releasing an unedited version of his medical records would go a long way to solving this little mystery. Certainly that would do more than a pseudo-science dance in Switzerland. No matter what his widow and his adoring terrorist friends would like to think”.

Professor Priest

Today a leading British biomedical scientist who was involved in the investigation into the death of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko who died of Polonium poisoning said it is highly unlikely that Arafat died of poisoning.

Professor Nicholas Priest, who formerly headed the biomedical research unit of the Atomic Energy Authority in Britain, told The Independent that, while poisoning by polonium “cannot be totally ruled out”, the symptoms were very different from those of the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, who died in London in 2006.

“Key indicators it was not polonium [that killed Arafat] were lack of hair loss in the face, and no damage to his bone marrow, both of which were found extensively in Litvinenko,” Professor Priest said. Photographs show Arafat stepping into a helicopter on the way to France sporting a white beard, while pictures of Litvinenko in hospital reveal an absence of any hair.

He pointed out that polonium would be naturally produced in the bones of anyone buried as a by-product of the bones absorbing lead from the soil, a point, he said, that “the authors of the report understand but the journalists do not”. The Swiss researchers’ carefully worded report admits that even in the tiny samples of non-bone body remains it found in the grave “no significant amount of unsupported polonium-210 was measured”.  They also admit that the pattern of Arafat’s illness was “not consistent with typical acute radiation syndrome”.

So what killed Yasser Arafat?

Already in 2007 Arafat’s private doctor confirmed that the PA president had been suffering from AIDS.

Dr. Ashraf al-Kurdi told the Jordanian Amman News Agency that Arafat did, in fact, have AIDS – but insisted that the HIV virus was injected into the chairman’s bloodstream, and not the result of illicit sexual activity.

Al-Jazeera (sic) interrupted an interview with al-Kurdi due to his mention of Arafat’s having had AIDS.