JERUSALEM – The Palestinian Authority agreed today to exhume the body of Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat amid new allegations he was poisoned with the radioactive element polonium-210.
“The authority, as it always has been, is ready to completely co-operate with and clear the way for an investigation into the true causes leading to the martyrdom of the late president,” said PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, who was close to Arafat.
It was not immediately clear when the exhumation would take place. Arafat, who died in 2004, is buried outside his former compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Arafat’s widow, Suha, strongly objected to any autopsy when her husband died. Now she is calling for the body to be exhumed and tested after an investigation by Al Jazeera claimed to find polonium-210 on Arafat’s clothing and toothbrush. The items were provided to the network by Suha.
The investigation was reportedly overseen by Francois Bochud, director of the Institute of Radiation Physics at the University of Lausanne.
Polonium, apparently ingested with food, was found to have caused the slow death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006. Arafat, however, did not exhibit similar symptoms, and his disease did not progress in the same manner.
Arafat died Nov. 11, 2004, at a military hospital in Paris. The official cause of death was not released because French law prohibits distribution of medical records to anyone other than immediate family. Arafat’s widow has refused to divulge any details of his illness.
Terror chief claimed Arafat died of AIDS
As WND reported in 2007, a confidential medical report released to the Palestinian Authority from the French hospital in which Arafat died concluded the Palestinian leader succumbed to AIDS, according to the founder and leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command terrorist group.
Ahmed Jibril – the infamous, Damascus-based PFLP chief who at times was a close Arafat confidante – said in a July 2007 interview with Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his team told him the French medical report listed AIDS as Arafat’s cause of death.
“When Abu Mazen (PA President Mahmoud Abbas) came to Damascus with his team, I asked them: ‘What happened to the investigation into the death of Abu Ammar (Arafat)? The Israelis killed him. He was my colleague ever since 1965 and used to sleep at my home. He and I followed the same path.
“Is it conceivable that when (former Lebanese Prime Minister) Rafiq Al-Hariri was killed, all hell broke loose, even though he was just a merchant in Saudi Arabia, who later entered politics, whereas the death of Yasser Arafat, who for 40 years had been carrying his gun from one place to another, is not investigated? Is this conceivable?”
Continued Jibril: “They (Abbas’ team) were silent, and then one of them said to me: ‘To be honest, the French gave us the medical report that stated that the cause of Abu Ammar’s death was AIDS.”
Jibril stressed the AIDS claim didn’t originate with him but was told to him by Abbas and his team:
“I am not saying this, they did. Now they pretend that they miss Yasser Arafat and complain that [Hamas] entered his house in [Gaza] and so on.”
Jibril’s PFLP has carried out numerous anti-American and anti-Israeli terror operations. The group is suspected by some of targeting Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988. Jibril is believed to have been behind a massive shipment of weapons to Arafat in 2001 that was seized by Israel and used as part of a campaign to isolate the late PLO leader.
A copy of Arafat’s medical report was obtained in 2005 by the PA as part of an internal investigation into Arafat’s death.
A book published in Israel in 2005 quoted Arafat’s doctor stating the Palestinian leader died of AIDS.
In “The Seventh War,” by Haaretz journalists Amos Harel and Avi Isacharoff, Dr. Ashraf al-Kurdi, Arafat’s personal physician, was quoted saying he knew Arafat’s French doctors found the AIDS virus in the blood.
Al-Kurdi played no role in Arafat’s medical care during the final weeks of the Palestinian leader’s life and refused to divulge the source of the AIDS information. He claimed the virus was put into Arafat’s blood in an effort to blur the traces of poisoning, which he says was the “real” cause of death.
Many senior Palestinian officials claimed in media interviews they are convinced Arafat was poisoned by Israel.
While Arafat was ill, some publicly speculated he was dying of AIDS.
The site 365Gay.com, which deals regularly with issues related to HIV/AIDS, ran a piece reminding readers that for several years it had been suggested Arafat was bisexual and could have contracted the disease.
“If suggestions that Arafat has AIDS are true, it is doubtful it would be made public,” wrote 365Gay.com European bureau chief Malcolm Thornberry.
National Review columnist David Frum suggested Arafat contracted AIDS from homosexual acts with his bodyguards.
Ion Pacepa, who was deputy chief of Romanian foreign intelligence under the Ceausescu regime and who defected to the West in 1978, stated in his memoirs the Romanian government bugged Arafat and had recordings of the Arab leader in orgies with his security detail.
Arafat’s wife, Suha, mostly lived abroad and rarely saw her husband.
In a WND interview, the National Security Agency’s former analyst of Arafat’s communications said the U.S. had information indicating the Palestinian leader may have been a homosexual who preyed on teenage boys.
James J. Welsh, who in the early 1970s monitored communications for the NSA related to Arafat’s Fatah movement, said, “One of the things we looked for when we were intercepting Fatah communications were messages about Ashbal [Lion cub] members who would be called to Beirut from bases outside of Beirut. The Ashbal were often orphaned or abandoned boys who were brought into the organization, ostensibly to train for later entry into Fedayeen fighter units.
“Arafat always had several of these 13- to15-year-old boys in his entourage. We figured out that he would often recall several of these boys to Beirut just before he would leave for a trip outside Lebanon. It proved to be a good indicator of Arafat’s travel plans. While Arafat did have a regular security detail, many of those thought to be security personnel – the teenage boys – were actually there for other purposes,” Welsh said.
Arafat’s Fatah and PLO organizations based themselves in Beirut after they were expelled from Jordan in 1970. The terror groups remained in Lebanon until Israel’s military operations in the area left in 1982.
In response to Welsh’s allegations, senior Arafat aide and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told WND the reports are “utter nonsense and don’t merit any reaction.”