Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Yessir, Yasser Might Just Have Been Poisoned

Swiss scientists have found polonium-210 concentrations  in Yasser Arafat's corpse at 18-times normal levels. 

According to Wiki, this isotope is "extremely toxic, with one microgram being enough to kill the average adult (250,000 times more toxic than hydrogen cyanide by weight)."

From The Guardian:

 The Swiss scientists who tested Arafat's remains after the exhumation of his body in November discovered levels of polonium at least 18 times higher than the norm in Arafat's ribs, pelvis and in soil that absorbed his leaked bodily fluids.

The Swiss forensic report was handed to representatives of Arafat's widow, Suha Arafat, as well as representatives of the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday. A copy of the report was obtained exclusively by the al-Jazeera TV network, which shared it with the Guardian prior to publication.

The Swiss report said that even taking into account the eight years since Arafat's death and the quality of specimens taken from bone fragments and tissue scraped from his decayed corpse and shroud, the results "moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium-210".

David Barclay, a British forensic scientist who had studied the report, told al-Jazeera: "The report contains strong evidence, in my view conclusive evidence, that there's at least 18 times the level of polonium in Arafat's exhumed body than there should be." He said the report represented "a smoking gun". He said: "It's what killed him. Now we need to find out who was holding the gun at that time." Barclay added: "I would point to him being given a fatal dose. I don't think there's any doubt at all."

Polonium-210 was also used to kill Russian dissident Alexander Litvenenko.  It is believed the poison was administered in a cup of tea.


Purple library guy said...

At the time anyone who said that was considered an alarmist fool. There's always a reluctance to assume foul play. Even though we know this kind of thing has happened in the past we tend to think that "our" governments (I mean, let's face it, this was either the Israelis or the Americans) wouldn't do something like that. It would be too messy, too personal, we imagine the injustices of our states running more to economic sanctions causing millions of children to die. Bureaucratic, legalistic (if not legal) mayhem.

But there you go, they really do it, personally eliminate in clandestine ways people they find inconvenient. I wouldn't be surprised if they got Hugo Chavez too.

The Mound of Sound said...

Wasn't the cover story that Arafat was felled by prostate cancer?

Kirby Evans said...

I can't believe anyone thought (or thinks) he wasn't poisoned. Israel is a ruthless, expansionist state determined to eliminated the very notion of a Palestinian people or Palestinian land and the elimination of Arafat was one in a long line of assassinations aimed at taking every inch of land in the region. Pretty straightforward really.

The Mound of Sound said...

I'm not aware of anyone, other than the Russians, using polonium. Given its toxicity and handling problems it wouldn't be the poison of choice of any amateurs.

Purple library guy said...

I'm sure Israel has the capacity. They probably perform more assassinations than all the other governments in the world just counting the ones they officially take credit for, and they have a successful nuclear program so I'm sure they have access to radioactive elements.

Scotian said...

I think people are ignoring the possibility that it was neither the US nor Israel behind this. While I certainly agree they are the first candidates that come to mind for very obvious reasons, I would also suggest Hamas/Iran/Russia combination could also be a viable candidate given how much Arafat had become the moderate within the Palestinian political dynamic by that point. One needs to be very careful not to get too far ahead of the facts when it comes to these sorts of things, and not to let oneself get too locked into what seems to be the obvious answer until there is more to go on. I will say I always suspected he was assassinated, but aside to my wife I didn't go out of my way to say so because it was nothing more than pure feel without fact. Now that this new information has come out, then yes it does seem pretty clear he was assassinated, and almost certainly by a government, the question is which government, why at that time and overall reason(s), and who delivered it to him? Hopefully those questions get answered, but I am not going to hold my breath that they will, and even if they do I suspect it will take a long time and be a difficult process.