Arafat ‘may have been poisoned’, claims Swiss forensic report

Yasser ArafatBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
A forensic investigation by Swiss researchers into the death of Yasser Arafat states that the data “moderately suggests” that the Palestinian statesman may have been poisoned with a deadly radioactive substance. The founder of Palestinian nationalist group Fatah, who led the Palestine Liberation Organization for over three decades before becoming the first president of the Palestinian Authority, passed away in November 2004 at the Percy military hospital in Paris, France. His official records indicate that he died from a stroke, which he suffered as a result of a blood disorder known as disseminated intravascular coagulation. However, a year-long investigation by a team of forensic pathologists at the Vaudois University Hospital Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland, suggests that the late Palestinian leader is likely to have been poisoned with radioactive polonium. According to the results of the study, published by Qatari news channel Al Jazeera, tests on Arafat’s bones and on soil samples from around his corpse, showed “unexpected high activity” of polonium 210. Traces of the same substance were discovered on the personal artifacts that Arafat used during his final days while in hospital in Paris. According to the study, some of the Fatah leader’s personal belongings, including his underwear and his toothbrush, contained levels of polonium that were as many as ten times higher than those in random samples used as control subjects in the study. The BBC spoke to Dr. Paddy Regan, of the University of Surrey, United Kingdom, who specializes in the detection and measurement of radiation. He said the Swiss study had delivered “a pretty strong statement” in support of the theory that Arafat was poisoned. Read more of this post

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Medical review article considers Arafat poisoning theory

Yasser Arafat in Tunis in 1993By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
The publication of a peer reviewed article in one of the world’s leading medical journals has reinforced the possibility that the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat may have died of poisoning. A nine-month study into the possible poisoning of the founder of Palestinian nationalist group Fatah, was commissioned in 2012 by Qatari news channel Al Jazeera. It was undertaken by a team of researchers at the Institut de Radiophysique (IRA) in Lausanne, Switzerland. According to the results, announced in July of that year, significant traces of the radioactive substance polonium 210 were discovered on the personal artifacts that Arafat used during his final days while in hospital in Paris, France, in 2004. According to the IRA, some of the Fatah leader’s personal belongings, including his underwear and his toothbrush, contained levels of polonium that were as many as ten times higher than those in random samples used as control subjects in the study. Shortly after the IRA study, Arafat’s wife and daughter filed an official complaint with French judicial authorities, who in turn decided to open an official murder investigation into the death of the late Palestinian national leader. Now British medical journal The Lancet has published a peer reviewed analysis of the IRA research, which outlines and endorses its conclusions. The article, entitled “Improving forensic investigation for polonium poisoning”, was authored by a group of researchers at the IRA in Lausanne and at the University Centre of Legal Medicine, which is also in Switzerland. It explains the procedures followed during the forensic investigation of  Arafat’s belongings, and examines the theory that Arafat may have been poisoned. The researchers state that the “findings [of the investigation] support the possibility of Arafat’s poisoning with 210Po”. Read more of this post

Chile launches search for suspect in alleged Neruda poisoning

Pablo Neruda (right) and Salvador AllendeBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The government of Chile has launched an official search for a United States suspect in connection with the alleged poisoning of celebrated poet Pablo Neruda. The Chilean literary icon, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971, died on September 23, 1973. His death occurred less than two weeks after a coup d’état, led by General Augusto Pinochet, toppled the democratically elected Marxist government of Salvador Allende, a close friend of Neruda. The death of the internationally acclaimed poet, who was 69 at the time, was officially attributed to prostate cancer and the effects of acute mental stress over the military coup. Earlier this year, however, an official investigation was launched into Neruda’s death following allegations that he had been murdered. The investigation was sparked by a comment made by Neruda’s personal driver, Manuel Araya, who said that the poet had been deliberately injected with poison while receiving treatment for cancer at the Clinica Santa Maria in Chilean capital Santiago. Investigators are still awaiting the completion of a complex autopsy performed on Neruda’s remains, which were exhumed in April. But the Chilean government has already issued a search order for a medical doctor —or someone pretending to be a doctor— who was allegedly on Neruda’s bedside on the night of his death. The search was issued based on comments made recently by another medical doctor, Sergio Draper, who supervised Neruda’s hospital treatment in September of 1973. Dr. Draper told government investigators that he turned over his shift that night to a “Dr. Price”, a young doctor in his late 20s, who was with Neruda in the hours leading to the poet’s death. According to Rodolfo Reyes, a lawyer representing the Neruda estate, Dr.Price’s identity remains a mystery. Read more of this post

France opens murder inquiry into Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s death

Yasser ArafatBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
French prosecutors have opened an official murder inquiry into the 2004 death of Palestinian statesman Yasser Arafat, following allegations that he may have been poisoned. The decision, announced Tuesday, comes less than two months after the results of a lengthy forensic toxicological investigation raised the possibility that the Palestinian leader may have been poisoned with polonium-210. The nine-month study was commissioned by Qatari news channel Al Jazeera and was conducted by the Institut de Radiophysique (IRA) in Lausanne, Switzerland. According to the results, announced in early July, significant traces of the radioactive substance were discovered on the personal artifacts that Arafat used during his final days while in hospital in Paris, France. According to the IRA, some of the Fatah founder’s personal belongings, including his underwear and his toothbrush, contained levels of polonium that were as many as ten times higher than those in random samples used as control subjects in the study. Shortly following the IRA study, Arafat’s wife and daughter filed an official complaint with French judicial authorities, who in turn decided to open an official murder investigation. The decision was taken despite the fact that many in the medical profession appear cautious about the claims of the IRA study. But one British observer told the BBC that the French government was obliged to take the request by the two women “very seriously because of its diplomatic aspect”. Last week, IRA officials in Switzerland said they had received permission from Arafat’s family and the Palestinian National Authority to travel to Ramallah, West Bank, and examine Arafat’s exhumed remains for traces of polonium-210. Read more of this post

Medical tests suggest Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned

Yasser ArafatBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A nine-month forensic toxicological investigation into the death of Yasser Arafat has raised the possibility that the Palestinian leader may have been poisoned with a radioactive substance. The Institut de Radiophysique (IRA) in Lausanne, Switzerland, has announced the discovery of significant traces of polonium-210 on the personal artifacts that Arafat used during his final days. Speaking at a press conference in Switzerland on Monday, IRA Director Dr. Francois Bochud said that the Institute could “confirm that we measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr. Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids”. According to the IRA, some of the Fatah founder’s personal belongings, including his underwear and his toothbrush, contained levels of polonium that were as many as ten times higher than those in random samples used as control subjects in the study. The findings of the investigation, which was sponsored by the Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera, may eventually shed light into the cause of Arafat’s death, which remains a medical mystery. Doctors in the West Bank and France have confirmed that the Palestinian leader was in sound health until he suddenly fell ill in mid-October 2004, and that his body showed no symptoms of any known disease. Polonium-210 made news headlines in a major way in November 2006, when it was identified as the poison used to kill Alexander Litvinenko. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #671

Pablo Neruda (right) and Salvador AllendeBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►German ‘spies’ detained in Pakistan. Three alleged German spies have been detained in Pakistan by police and released to German diplomats, according to reports. The men were detained last Saturday in the northeastern city of Peshawar by officers who accused them of belonging to “an unauthorized liaison office of the German embassy”. A Pakistani official said counterintelligence authorities had been observing the three Germans “for months”.
►►Was poet Pablo Neruda murdered? Pablo Neruda, Chile’s Nobel Prize-winning poet, died exactly 12 days after the brutal coup that ended the life of his close friend, socialist President Salvador Allende. The official version was that he died of natural causes brought on by the trauma of witnessing the coup and the lethal persecution of many of his friends. But now Neruda’s body might be exhumed for testing to address long-simmering suspicions that the poet was poisoned.
►►Britain’s secret mission to beat Gaddafi. British efforts to help Libyan rebels topple Colonel Gaddafi were not limited to air strikes. On the ground –and on the quiet– British special forces soldiers were blending in with rebel fighters. The BBC’s Newsnight program has produced a report on the subject. The report includes information on E Squadron, which has not hitherto been discussed publicly. It was formed in 2007 to work closely with MI6, and is mainly involved in missions “where maximum discretion is required”.

South Korea charges North Korean agent caught carrying ‘poison-tipped needle’

Park Sang-hak

Park Sang-hak

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The South Korean government has formally pressed charges against a North Korean defector, whom it accuses of trying to kill an outspoken anti-Pyongyang activist living in the South, with the use of a poison-tipped needle. As intelNews reported last month, a man identified only as ‘Ahn’ was arrested at a subway station in southern Seoul, as he tried to assassinate Park Sang-Hak. The alleged target of the assassination is a high-profile North Korean defector known for spearheading an imaginative —and often controversial— propaganda campaign directed against the government of North Korea. In one recent case, Park, along with his wife and children, employed dozens of inflatable helium balloons to smuggle thousands of leaflets, dollar bills, solar-powered radios, and DVDs into North Korea. According to the Korean Central Prosecutor’s Office in Seoul, Park’s activities prompted Pyongyang to employ ‘Ahn’, a North Korean former Special Forces commando, to try to kill the anti-communist propagandist. According to South Korean officials, ‘Ahn’, has operated as a North Korean sleeper agent ever since his relocation to Seoul, in the late 1990s. In the summer of 2011, ‘Ahn’ contacted Park and eventually managed to arrange a meeting with him at a suburban subway station in the South Korean capital for September 3. However, several days prior to the arranged rendezvous, Park received notice from South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) that ‘Ahn’ was out to either kidnap or kill him. The alleged North Korean agent was arrested at the subway station at the time of his meeting with Park. South Korean government prosecutors claim that NIS agents found a poison-tipped needle in ‘Ahn’s’ possession, which they plan to use as evidence at his upcoming closed-door trial. Read more of this post

Germany launches probe into poisoning of ex-KGB colonel

KGB seal

KGB seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An official government probe into the alleged poisoning of a Russian former KGB colonel and his wife has been launched in Berlin, German officials have announced. Regular intelNews visitors will recall the recent case of Viktor Kalashnikov, a former colonel and authority on military matters for the Soviet KGB, who was taken in critical condition to a Berlin hospital along with his wife, Marina. The two were found to have over ten times the highest permissible level of mercury in their blood, which, according to medical experts, points to a deliberate poisoning attempt. The case intrigued German officials, since the Kalashnikovs, who moved to Germany last September, are known in Russia as vocal critics of the Putin-Medvedev administration. The two have co-authored scathing critiques accusing Moscow of manipulating the separatist Chechen movement in order to create “a national security state” in Russia. Read more of this post

Police see ‘professional job’ in British spy’s death

Gareth Williams

Gareth Williams

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
As authorities investigate the recent death of British spy Dr. Gareth Williams, the country’s notorious tabloid media industry is having a field day disorienting interested observers. It is thus easy to miss important news breakthroughs in the cacophony of sensationalized headlines about Williams, whose body was discovered a week ago, stuffed in a sports duffle bag in the bath of his London apartment. One such breakthrough was yesterday’s report by Britain’s widely respected Channel 4, which said that law enforcement investigators described Williams’ death as “a neat job”, a term used to refer to professional killings. The Channel 4 report was preceded by strong official denials by police that Williams’ murder was sex-related, as had been previously reported. Some investigators now believe that Williams was killed by a foreign agent, who then deliberately “planted a trail of clues” pointing to a homosexual link to the death. Read more of this post

Answers to questions about al-Mabhouh’s assassination

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Al-Mabhouh

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The intelNews email inbox is literally bulging with messages about the recent assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the co-founder of Hamas’ military wing, who was found dead in Dubai last month. Here are brief answers to a selection of readers’ questions. Q. Is there any doubt that Mossad was behind the assassination? A. Almost none. By no means was Israel al-Mabhouh’s sole enemy. In fact, his killing caused little distress among Fatah’s leadership, and at least two Palestinians are believed to have assisted in the assassination. Nevertheless, the operation has all the hallmarks of a state-sponsored action, something particularly evident in the sophisticated travel documentation forgery involved. Moreover, the tactics of the hit squad, its composition, as well as its methods, point almost directly to the Mossad.  Q. Were those passports real, or not? If not, who are the people in the photos? The eleven known members of the hit squad utilized British, Irish, German, and one French (the squad leader) passports. Read more of this post

Three women among al-Mabhouh assassins, says journal

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Al-Mabhouh

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Three women were among ten members of a Mossad assassination team that killed a top Hamas official last month in Dubai, according to Intelligence Online. The Paris-based, subscription-only website also said that all members of the Israeli assassination squad that killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh used European passports to enter the United Arab Emirates. Earlier this week, Dubai police announced that the team consisted of seven people, at least four of whom had used fraudulent Irish passports to enter the Emirates. According to Intelligence Online, one female member of the Mossad hit-team played a central role in the operation, by dressing herself in a generic hotel uniform before knocking on the door of al-Mabhouh’s room at the luxury Al-Bustan Rotana Hotel. Read more of this post

Al-Mabhouh assassins used Irish passports, says Dubai police

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Al-Mabhouh

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
At least four of the seven people believed to have participated in last month’s assassination of a senior Hamas military official in Dubai, used forged Irish passports to enter and exit the United Arab Emirates, according to local police. The body of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, co-founder of the Palestinian Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, was discovered by staff at Dubai’s luxury Al-Bustan Rotana Hotel, where al-Mabhouh was a guest, on January 20. Nine days later, on January 29, Hamas accused Israeli intelligence service Mossad of having killed al-Mabhouh. Now the Dubai police alleges that four of the seven assassins, which included at least one woman, used real Irish travel documents with falsified identities to enter the Emirates, and used them again to “flee to a European country” several hours before al-Mabhouh’s body was discovered.   Read more of this post

Israel blamed for killing of Hamas official in Dubai

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Al-Mabhouh

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The Palestinian group Hamas says Israeli agents are behind the murder of one of its most senior commanders, whose body was discovered two weeks ago in a luxury Dubai hotel. Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, co-founder of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, was an important mediator in weapons procurement for the Palestinian group, which has controlled the Gaza strip since 2006.  On January 19, al-Mabhouh arrived in the United Arab Emirates on a commercial flight from Damascus, Syria, where he had lived for the past several years. Interestingly, he was apparently traveling under his real name, and was unaccompanied by his usual bodyguard detail, which –intelNews hears– has led to speculation that al-Mabhouh was somehow lured to Dubai. His body was discovered by staff at the luxury Al-Bustan Rotana Hotel the following morning. Read more of this post

Suspects arrested for 1981 poisoning of Chilean ex-president

Eduardo Frei

Eduardo Frei

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A Chilean judge this week charged several people connected with the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, of complicity in the 1981 murder by poisoning of former Chilean President Eduardo Frei Montalva. With the help of the CIA, Frei, a conservative centrist, became Chile’s elected leader from 1964 to 1970. In 1973, he supported the Augusto Pinochet junta movement against Chile’s elected President, Salvador Allende, but soon became disillusioned and opposed the military regime’s widespread human rights abuses. In November 1981, Frei checked into Santiago’s Santa Maria Clinic for a routine hernia operation. It was there, according to the court indictment, that several doctors connected with the Pinochet junta systematically poisoned the former Chilean President with thallium and small doses of mustard gas, which eventually killed him. Read more of this post

New book examines KGB poison lab

Lugovoy

Lugovoy

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Former Soviet military intelligence officer Boris Volodarsky has given an extensive interview to Radio Svoboda (RFE/RL’s Russian language service) about his newest book, KGB Poison Factory: From Lenin to Litvinenko. At the heart of his book is the 2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB intelligence officer who had defected and was living with his family to the UK, until he came down with a fatal dose of polonium 210. Volodarsky agrees with most intelligence experts that Litvinenko’s murder carries with it all the marks of a KGB assassination operation. But the former intelligence officer, who now lives in Vienna and London, believes Litvinenko’s poisoning was not carried out by Andrey Lugovoy, as is claimed by British authorities, but by an unknown member of the KGB’s mysterious “C” directorate. Lugovoy, who is wanted in Britain for Litvinenko’s murder, served in the KGB and in Russia’s Federal Protective Service (FSO) from 1987 to 1996, and is currently a member of the Russian Duma. Volodarsky’s interview is available in Russian here.

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