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Arafat’s Widow To Sue Regarding Cause of Death

Suha Arafat is following up on report of poison traces

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Yasser Arafat in late 2003.(Omar Rashidi/Getty Images via PPO)

The latest episode in the new Was Yasser Arafat Poisoned? saga is his widow, Suha, has said she’ll file a court complaint in France (where she resides) against “an unnamed person” (which I think may just mean nobody in particular?) requesting that the authorities divine the exact circumstances of her husband’s death in late 2004. Palestinian President Abbas has already granted permission for Arafat’s body to be exhumed for purposes of investigation.

The latest speculation was touched off by a recent Al Jazeera report that claimed that traces of polonium-210, a poison not uncommonly used in Russia for assassination, were found on Arafat’s final effects, including his trademark keffiyah. Hussein Ibish debunked this theory in an article whose title, “Arafatuous,” pretty much says it all. And Amos Harel notes that Suha Arafat possesses ulterior motives for wanting this to be an issue now, and notes that a thorough examination could confirm some theories, such as that Arafat had AIDS, that she’d probably prefer not come to light.

Profiling the then-recently deceased icon of Palestinian nationalism in 2005, Tablet Magazine literary editor David Samuels wrote trenchantly,

Some of his closest aides and advisers spoke openly of their belief that he had been poisoned. Suspects in the poisoning included the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Jordanians, the Egyptians, and the CIA, as well as a team of cyclists for peace who had visited Arafat the previous September. Only the idea that Arafat might have expired from natural causes was deemed too farfetched for serious consideration.

Suha Arafat To File Suit in Husband’s Death [JTA]
Arafatuous [FP]
Probe Into Arafat’s Death Could Open a Bigger Palestinian Can of Worms [Haaretz]
Related: In a Ruined Country [The Atlantic]

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ginzy1 says:

From my admittedly rusty understanding of radiation physics, Suha’s yarn doesn’t fit for another reason. Given the rather short half-life of 210Po (the polonium isotope used in “hits”) of 138.4 days, finding trace amounts of 210Po on Arafat’s clothing some 8 years after his death would have meant a rather large amount of 210Po would have to have been deposited on Arafat as part of the hit, far far more than the amount needed to do the job. The whole point of using 210Po is that “a little dab will do ya” (in) and then it disintegrates in a relatively short time.

If remembered my formulas (which I don’t), given the amount reported on his clothing and the half-life, it would be possible to back-calculate the amount deposited on the clothing, and presumably on Arafat in 2004. I believe it would be far in excess of what even a well funded espionage / sabotage agency would use in a hit.

Also, a large amount on the clothing would have also affected those who handled his clothing with or without Arafat in them, and I don’t believe any of Arafat’s familiars, in particular his bevy of bodyguards who had regular close contact with him, came down with the symptoms of 210Po induced radiation sickness.

So it is safe to assume that Arafat’s clothing were just recently doped for Suha’s ulterior motives. And there are many. But if she pursues this further, it would behoove the French medical authorities, on the assumption that they value intellectual honesty (which may not be a valid assumption) to release Arafat’s medical records, in particular any postmortem examination data they may have.


J’lem / Efrata

Oudtshoorn says:

Al Jazeera. That bunch of trouble-makers is headquartered in Qatar, a country holding more than one million mistreated slave-workers whose passports have been confiscated as a matter of course, and who are forced to live in squalor that even Libyan Arabs abhor. The country is enormously oil-wealthy, will not permit citizenship to non-Muslims, and bars non-Arab workers from its hotels. And there are people (plenty of them apparently) who condemn Israel, of all places, as “racist” and as practising “apartheid.” Australia is one of those countries with people very busy believing Arab lies and condemning Israel, while two of our most reliable and prominent TV news channels have at least one “Al Jazeera Hour” each day, as well as parts of their ordinary world news sourced from Al Jazeera. And the world continues saying that “Condemning Israel is nothing to do with anti-Semitism.” Huh.


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Arafat’s Widow To Sue Regarding Cause of Death

Suha Arafat is following up on report of poison traces

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