REPORT: Tests Show That Yasser Arafat Died Of Radioactive Poisoning



Newscred via AFP

Yasser Arafat symbolized the fight for Palestinian statehood.

Swiss scientists have found at least 18 times the normal levels of radioactive polonium in the remains of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, David Poort and Ken Silverstein of Al Jazeera report.


The scientists obtained the samples last November after Arafat's body was exhumed from a mausoleum in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

"Yasser Arafat died of polonium poisoning," Dave Barclay, a renowned U.K. forensic scientist and retired detective who was not involved in the testing, told Al Jazeera. "We found the smoking gun that caused his death. What we don't know is who's holding the gun at the time."



Where the samples were taken from the late Palestinian leader's skeleton.

A 108-page report (pdf) by the University Centre of Legal Medicine in Lausanne, which found unnaturally high levels of polonium in Arafat's ribs and pelvis, does not address or point towards who would have killed him or how.

On October 12, 2004, toward the second intifada, Arafat suddenly fell ill while eating a meal in his presidential compound in Ramallah, which had been surrounded and partly razed by Israeli troops.


He fell into a coma and died on Nov. 11 at the age of 75.

Just 0.1 microgram of Polonium, a highly radioactive metal found in uranium ore, can be fatal when ingested. (Al Jazeera describes 0.1 microgram as "the size of a speck of dust weighing less than a millionth of a snowflake.")

The most famous case on polonium poisoning was Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer turned dissident died in London after being granted political asylum from the British government.