Forget “Who Killed J.R.?” I wanna know “Who Killed Y.A.?”
Suha Arafat stands on the verge of discovering whether her late husband, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, was assassinated. Since the day he died in a Parisian military hospital in 2004, rumours have swirled about what may have killed him – a heart attack; food poisoning; polonium; Aids.
Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but my money’s not on heart attack or food poisoning, if you receive my meaning.
Arafat, then 75, was struck down by a mysterious illness inside his besieged presidential compound in Ramallah. He was airlifted to France but could not be saved. After he died, much to the frustration of his personal doctor, no autopsy was requested (under French law only Suha could give permission). French doctors concluded he was killed by a stroke, although the official cause of death was unresolved.
The results of tests on his body, which was finally exhumed at Suha’s request last year, are due to be released soon. And what they reveal could have a profound effect on her – and on the fragile Middle East peace process.
At last, the whole world will know who or what killed Yasser Arafat!
Oh, come on! Don’t you want to know?
Fine, don’t listen then:
Suha eventually agreed to have Arafat’s body tested after being approached by Al Jazeera. “I gave them a holdall of Yasser’s with some of his belongings from the hospital,” she says.
The items, including a toothbrush and some underwear, were sent to a laboratory in Lausanne. The tests found higher than normal levels of polonium, the radioactive substance used to kill former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, but though they suggested foul play, they were not conclusive.
“To prove poisoning they needed to carry out more tests. I thought we must find out the truth,” she says. Last November, the body was exhumed.
What do you think Arafat’s toothbrush (unused probably) and underwear (well-used probably) would fetch on eBay? I would pay just not to see them listed.
The head of the Palestinian commission on the investigation, Tawfiq Tirawi, realises this theory raises an uncomfortable question. “If someone put polonium or any sort of poison in his food, it must have been a Palestinian. Maybe – maybe – there was inside collaboration.”
Suha says she has no preconceptions about her husband’s death. “We don’t even know if a crime was committed so how can I make accusations? We have to wait for the results — and if they are positive, then it’s up to the criminal investigation and the courts. If a crime has been committed it’s important that it’s documented – either way, the truth should be told,” she says.
“Of course I’m nervous about the results, they’re very significant.
I wouldn’t worry, Suha. You and the old man hadn’t exactly been intimate for a while, had you? You can’t get… polonium poisoning… from a toilet seat.
Now do you care, gentle reader?
There’s no pleasing some people.
PS: Who knows when “soon” is. This story was published 11 days ago. Don’t hold your breath—unless in the presence of Arafat’s underwear.