Yasser Arafat Poisoned? Body Being Exhumed For Full Inquiry [VIDEO]

By IScience Times Staff Reporter on November 13, 2012 8:38 PM EST

Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Yasser Arafat died almost exactly eight years ago, but his body is now being exhumed in a murder probe after Swiss scientists told Al-Jazeera that they found traces of the rare radioactive poison polonium on his personal items, including his famous black-and-white headscarf.

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At the time of death in 2004, rumors swirled when the man who many Israelis viewed as a terrorist and roadblock to peace died in a French hospital. After being taken to a military hospital at the age of 75, he suffered a brain hemorrhage and slipped into a coma. Palestinian officials said at the time that he had a blood disorder and digestive problems. But because the Palestinian leader was such a controversial figure theories started to surface that foul play was involved.

Eight years is the limit for detecting traces of deadly radioactive substance, according to the institute claiming possible poisoning. So this would be the last year the scientists could conduct a full inquiry.

Francois Bochud, director of the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, says his researchers tested Arafat's toothbrush, clothing and keffiyeh, the headscarf he wore and found high levels of toxic polonium-210 on some of Arafat's belongings.

His widow, Suha Arafat, told CNN she wanted her husband's body exhumed so investigators could be "100% sure" of the presence of polonium.

Now a cumbersome process will ensue. "There are several phases," an anonymous source told France 24. "It starts with the removal of stone and concrete and cutting the iron [framework] until they reach the soil that covers the body, which will not be removed until the arrival of the French prosecutors, Swiss experts and Russian investigators," the source said.

"We say openly that our leader, our founder was assassinated by Israel with poison. The overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people is convinced of this," al-Kidwa said, according to the Ma'an News Agency. "Some have spread about the repugnant idea that Arafat's tomb should be opened up and desecrated. There is no justification for this: we know the real truth."

But Dr. Roland Masse, a member of the Académie de Médecine who teaches radiopathology at Percy Military Training Hospital in France, where Arafat was hospitalized before his death eight years ago, told The Times of Israel that there is no way Arafat was poisoned.

Masse said the symptoms of polonium poisoning are "impossible to miss. ... A lethal level of polonium simply cannot go unnoticed," he said.

In an interview with The Times of Israel, Masse said "there is absolutely no way the symptoms described in Yasser Arafat's medical report match those of poisoning by polonium. ... When in contact with high levels of polonium, the body suffers from acute radiation which translates into a state of anemia and a severe decrease in white blood cells. And yet Arafat did not present any of those symptoms."

Watch the CNN report here...

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