Nearly eight years after Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat fell ill and died, the circumstances surrounding his death is now being investigated with closer scrutiny.
Arafat died in late 2004 after falling ill and being admitted to a hospital in France. An autopsy done at the hospital found no evidence that would suggest foul play surrounding his death. To this day, his cause of death still remains a mystery.
A separate investigation lead by Al Jazeera, however, revealed a completely different story. They concluded that Arafat was in optimal health before suddenly becoming violently ill. Whatâ€™s even more intriguing is that an examination of his personal belongings, such as his toothbrush, clothes and even the kaffiyeh that he was always seen wearing, showed high traces of a radioactive element known as polonium.
The tests were done at an institute in Switzerland and showed that the belongings all had traces of Arafatâ€™s urine, saliva and sweat. Further tests also suggest that Arafat may have had high levels of polonium in his internal system at the time of his passing.
Arafatâ€™s widow, Suha Arafat, has now requested for authorities to have his body exhumed and have a full autopsy done. If traces of polonium are found in his bones, then it will suggest that someone may have had him poisoned.
Polonium is also suspected in the death of two scientists involved with Israelâ€™s nuclear program. Its symptoms are still being studied and it is believe that the element kills by poisoning the intestines.
Laboratory tests concluded that polonium found on Arafatâ€™s belongings did not come from natural sources. Most forms of cancer have also been ruled out as the cause of death. Even if Arafatâ€™s body were to be exhumed and tests show that he indeed had levels of polonium, then it would only lead to an even greater question: who killed him?