Arafat’s body to be exhumed for radiation testing

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, July 4, 2012 12:01 EDT
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Deceased Palestinian leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Yasser Arafat. Photo: Anthony Correia / Shutterstock.com.
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Palestinian authorities have agreed to exhume the body of deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, reports claimed Wednesday, following an Al Jazeera investigative expose that claims scientists in Switzerland detected high levels of radiation in his clothing and on his toothbrush.

The radiation was determined to be from the extremely rare, highly concentrated isotope polonium-210, which became notorious after it was used to assassinate KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. Many at the time believed the assassination was state-sponsored, as the only possible sources of polonium-210 are in nuclear-equipped nations like Russia, the U.S. and Israel, among others.

Arafat’s widow provided some of his belongings to journalists researching the former leader’s mysterious death. Unconfirmed reports at the time suggested he died of AIDS, but Al Jazeera claimed that a lengthy investigation has proved that was not the case and that Arafat was in good health before he suddenly fell ill in 2004.

Scientists at Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the tests were conducted, cautioned that finding polonium-210 on Arafat’s clothing and toothbrush does not mean he was assassinated by radiation, and that further testing is needed.

The Palestinian Authority has also asked for an international investigation modeled after the committee that probed the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

This video was published by Al Jazeera on Wednesday, July 4, 2012.


Photo: Anthony Correia / Shutterstock.com.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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