TIMTIM PART ONE: What Killed Arafat?
00:22 SUHA ARAFAT SYNCI think that Yasser felt it was his last days in Palestine when he kissed the people while going into the plane. It was so touching
00:37 SUHA SYNCYou feel that death is approaching. So I smelt the smell of death.
00:49 COMMIn his last four weeks of life, nearly fifty doctors from Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, and France try to save him. They test him for virtually every known disease, including some of the world’s rarest conditions. But every single test comes back negative. In this exact room, Yasser Arafat dies at 3.30 in the morning on the 11th November 2004 – and it’s been an unsolved case ever since.
01:22 BARCLAY SYNCIs this something, some unusual illness or whatever? Or on the other hand, is it some poison?
01:28 COMMEight years ago, Arafat’s medical files were handed over to the Palestinian Authority. While they promised a full investigation, little has happened since. But there was a second copy – held by his widow, Suha.
01:48 COMMShe agreed to give his entire medical files to Al Jazeera for this exclusive investigation – along with his X-rays and his final possessions – his clothes, medicines, even his signature head scarf - and we have taken them to the best laboratories in Europe for forensic testing. For the scientists every fragment is rich with possibility – even his hair.
02:12 MANGIN SYNCYou can perform the analysis even ten years after the collection.
02:18 COMMAl Jazeera has undertaken a 9-month investigation to try to find out what killed Yasser Arafat—was it natural causes… or MURDER?
02:29 SUHA SYNCIf I know that Yasser was poisoned, it will close a chapter… the enigma of his death.
02:38 TITLE: What Killed Arafat?
02:48 COMMYasser Arafat.
02:49 COMMOver four decades, he was the single most important international figure in Middle East politics. The world’s best known Arab, he is the face of popular resistance, the one man who drove the Israeli-Palestinian conflict onto the world agenda.
03:07 SHLOMO BEN AMI SYNCHe was the one that invented the peace process. It was not the Israelis. It was not the Americans. He created the peace process in 1988 so he recognized a two state solution, and by this he unleashed a peace process. He was the only one who could have given legitimacy to an agreement that is always painful; that is always imperfect.
03:33 COMMBut in 2000, peace talks collapse….and the Second Intifada begins. The international community overwhelmingly pins the blame directly on Arafat. And months later, Israelis elect Ariel Sharon, who campaigned on the promise to deal with Arafat--harshly. Negotiations come to a full stop, though some channels are left open.
04:02 SYNC RASHID Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon told me face-to-face, … “My reaction will be totally different, and …there will never be the time after.” I told him, “Is it a threat?” He said, “I don’t threaten. But you guys know my policy. Anybody is a threat to the Israeli people, I will handle him. I will remove him.”
04:30 COMMIn 2002, Israeli tanks roll into Ramallah and destroy much of the Palestinian AUTHORITY headquarters, also known as the Muqata. Yasser Arafat is now confined to a two-room apartment, surrounded by rubble. Outside the pressure against him builds.
04:50 SYNC PRESIDENT GW BUSH: I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders—leaders not compromised by terror
04:58 SYNC VillepinDuring most of my meetings here in Paris, Israel, as well as in the United States, Arafat was seen as the devil. He was the man blocking any process toward peace. There was this ideas that when Arafat will be out of the game, then everything will be easier.
05:20 SYNC BEN AMIIt was fantasy to think that you can reach a settlement with his successors.
05:26 COMM But regime change was exactly what Washington and Tel Aviv had in mind.
05:30 SYNC ABBAS“This is the nature of democratic life that we have chosen—and there is no turning back for the Palestinian people.”
05:39 COMM By 2003, attempts to strip Arafat of his power and hand it over to others have failed. Isolated by his enemies and abandoned by his friends—Arafat nevertheless clings to power. With his international standing badly damaged—threats against his life went unchallenged.
05:58 SYNC OlmertWe will have to focus on the murderers and those who inspire the murderers and orchestrate the operations, and if necessary to get rid of them. Arafat is not excluded.
06:14 COMMSharon’s political allies were not the only ones talking tough.
06:19 COMMIn 2004 he walks from an earlier pledge he made to the United States—that he would not harm Arafat. His intentions go from private…to public
06:31 SYNC SHARON APRIL 23, 2004I don’t think I could have been any more clear than I already have been—I am free from that obligation. I have freed myself from that obligation to Arafat.
06:45 SYNC RASHID p. 6“It was clear that we are heading to a serious deadlock which could cause Arafat his political leadership and it could cause him his life as well.’
FADE TO BLACK
ON BOTTOM OF SCREEN “12 OCTOBER 2004”
07:01 COMMOctober the Twelth, 2004.
07:05 COMMArafat begins another day under Israeli siege—restricted to his quarters.
07:10 BARCLAY V/O and SYNC There is nothing in the file of the documentation that suggests that he has anything other than perfectly normal health symptoms. So he seems to be somebody who is perfectly fine for his age.
07:20 COMMThat evening, four hours after eating, Arafat becomes violently ill. His medical notes record that he was feeling faint, with nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain—but no fever.
07:34 The journey to understand what caused Arafat’s initial symptoms begins far away from Palestine—in Northern Scotland. Our first consulting expert is Professor Dave Barclay, a world-renowned forensic scientist whose expertise is solving cold cases..
07:50 BARCLAY SYNC AND V/OI've been studying all the paperwork that could be retrieved from the medical records … It’s a really good file.
07:57 BARCLAY SYNC So I've been going through all that trying to look at the context, trying to work out the cause of his illness, the treatments he was given, and if I possibly could, what caused that illness in the first place.
08:08 COMMAccording to the file, the first doctor to examine Arafat was this man—Omar Dakka—his personal physician for almost 20 years. Arafat had suffered from flu a year before and Dakka believed it was just a re-run.
08:24 BARCLAY SYNCThere wasn’t the aggressive management in those first few days, but the reason for that is quite obvious. It wasn’t appreciated by anybody that he was actually gravely ill.
08:35 COMMOn October the 17th, 2004—Arafat’s health gets worse. The Palestinians call in an Egyptian team for a second opinion. But they too misread the symptoms.
08:46 ZAKI SYNC1:01:56It was nothing but gastritis—inflammation of the stomach.
08:50 COMMDoctor Omar Zaki, now a consultant anaesthetist in Cairo, was a member of the Egyptian team that treated Arafat.
08:56 ZAKI SYNCWe stayed for another two days—it was in Ramadan—then we went back. He was in good shape.
09:04 COMMTo review Arafat’s medical treatment, we take his entire file and x-rays to Switzerland, home of the University Center for Legal Medicine. Professor Patrice Mangin and his team of forensic pathologists and toxicologist initiate a rigorous re-examination of the case, focusing on Arafat’s initial care.
09:28 SYNC MANGINAll of these kind of investigations have to done in a modern hospital.
09:33 SYNC MANGIN: It’s difficult for me to imagine it could have been done in Ramallah, in the condition where President Arafat was staying.
09:47 COMMOctober the 20th—Arafat’s blood platelet count – a crucial health indicator – suddenly nosedives. He now runs a high risk of dying from internal bleeding.
09:59 MANGIN SYNCOf course, after one week, I think it became urgent to organize such a transfer.
10:08 COMMThat urgent transfer was delayed. Instead, his doctors in Ramallah continue their guesswork. They experiment with an assortment of antibiotics and steroids. The treatments fail.
10:22 COMMThese insights are now available because of the decision reached by Arafat’s widow to give al Jazeera all of his medical files—as well as the memories they bring back.
10:36 SYNC SUHAI was calling him to ask to see, and he could not answer. They told me that he was sick, he has flu. I said, my goodness, I will not even bother him if he has flu. Tell him that I called. And he called the other day, he had flu. I said, my goodness, what’s happening? Then the 3rd day I could talk to him, I was getting crazy. And he said that I had flu. And he was so much on the phone, so much nice. Usually he is very formal with me bc everybody is hearing us on the phone. He told me, I love you. And I did not know…. Why you say it? He said, I love you and I love Zahwa.
11:07 COMMOctober the 26th—14 days have now passed. Arafat’s platelet count drops again. His condition is now critical. The Palestinians panic. They call the Egyptians back to Ramallah and bring in yet another medical team from Tunisia.
11:26 ZAKI SYNCA week later, acutely, almost midnight, he said “we have to go NOW, he’s in very bad shape, we have to go and see him.
11:35 COMMWhen they arrive, Arafat is trapped in a painful cycle of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The Tunisians give Suha an update.
11:44 SYNC SUHA“Listen, it’s not reassuring. It’s not a normal influenza. He’s losing all his stomach—he’s all the time diaherria. This flu is not a flu!”
11:58 COMMThe Egyptian doctors are also concerned. They want to perform an endoscopy--a procedure to examine and take samples from the lining of Arafat’s stomach. Before doing so, they ask the Palestinian doctors—who remain in charge of his treatment.
12:14 ZAKI SYNC A: They said “We have done it. There’s no need.…They said we did all what can be done. I mean they were treating the subject lightly.
12:27 COMMWhat happened to these crucial samples remains a mystery.
12:31 MANGIN SYNCA: Unfortunately, these samples were lost and never transmitted to the laboratory.
12:43 COMMOctober the 28th—the Palestinian Authority call in yet another team—this time, from Jordan.
12:51 ZAKI SYNC They all want to escape all the responsibility, not to be blamed for accusation for his death. So he should be transferred to a Western country.
13:03 COMMPreparations begin to move Arafat to France. It required days of bartering with the Israelis—but they finally agree that he can go, and crucially, should he survive, even come back.
13:17 SUHA SYNC At five o’clock I heard…the Jordanian helicopters. Two big helicopters coming around the Muqata…Yasser is hearing this the first time, these military helicopters coming just to take him and not to bomb him… he was very weak and to be trying to dress him with the nurses. It was so touching. … …
13:44 COMMAfter seventeen days of failed medical treatment, his illness is now well advanced. He has disseminated intravascular coagulation, known as DIC. Without discovering what TRIGGERED this condition—he will die.
14:01 BARCLAY V/O the red blotches may well be small bleeds into the skin, …yellow, jaundiced eyes…Those are symptoms that you would expect to get in somebody with DIC.
14:11 COMMDIC is a condition with many causes—it presents itself in patients suffering from a range of cases—including severe burns, snakebites—even radiation exposure.
14:23 BARCLAY SYNCDIC is a blood disorder a symptom of something really serious happening in the body Normally your blood is flowing around the body. If you get a cut, you don’t want the blood to keep on flowing out of that, so a switch is thrown and little clots start to form … and that helps the coagulation process. DIC… means that … switch is being thrown all over the body at the same time and you're getting lots of little clots going around the body.  the blood gets out of kilter … It almost starts eating itself,
14:59 COMMOctober the 29th—Arafat arrives at the Percy Military Hospital. He is taken straight to the hematology ward. The file thoroughly describes what the French did next.
15:11 BARCLAY SYNCThe way they treated it was exactly right. BARCLAY V/O they needed to stop the little blood clots getting worse and they used Heparin to do that, which was correct. They needed to give plasma and blood clotting agents through blood transfusion. And that’s exactly what they did as well.
15:29 COMMOctober the 30th –Arafat responds well to treatment. He stops vomiting, his nausea and diarrhea are gone—he’s even able to hold down some food.
15:42 COMMThe French run dozens of tests - using some of the world’s most sophisticated medical diagnostic equipment – but according to their own records, they never uncover what’s causing the DIC. The French do not address the possibility that poison might be involved until four days after Arafat arrives—they order tests, but it’s already been a full three weeks since the start of his symptoms.
16:07 SYNC MANGINWhy wait before collecting the blood, urine, and stool for the toxicology? If some poisoning had to be suspected, of course, the samples have to be collected very, very rapidly and without any delay.
16:27 COMMNovember the Third—Arafat suddenly relapses, and begins the last and final phase of his unexplained condition.
16:35 SUHA SYNC He wanted to go out of the bed. …He was screaming. And I just said, please Yasser, calm down, calm down. And I sat on the floor. … I put my hands on him. And he was crying. Crying. Tears were coming. Not knowing me and crying. I said, why are you crying? He was looking but not talking. And tears were coming.
17:10 BARCLAY V/O And then … he lapses into a coma and it’s a serious coma. And neither I, nor any of the doctors at Percy have the faintest idea why that happened.
17:24 COMMThere is no recovery—and he will never speak again. As the hospital shifts him to Intensive Care Unit, Suha clings to hope. UPSOT QURAN RECITATION…At her request, the French agree to play Arafat’s favorite Quran recitation throughout the ward.
17:54 SUHA SYNCWhen Yasser heard the Quran, I was looking at his hands, and he would make like this (gestures again). I called the doctor, I said, doctor, doctor, come, come! He make this, he had a sign on his eye. He said, no, Suha, this is a neurological sign. It’s normal like this. Don’t get so much excited,…
18:16 COMMNovember the Fourth—news of Arafat’s coma is leaked. The leadership of the Palestinian Authority now believe Arafat’s death is a matter of days. His wife Suha believes they’re plotting to seize power—and calls Al Jazeera.
18:33 SUHA SYNC Let it be known to the honest Palestinian people that a bunch of those who want to inherit are coming to Paris.You have to realize the size of the conspiracy. I tell you they are trying to bury Arafat alive.
18:48 COMMActing Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and his delegation are received as the presumptive new leadership.
18:56 COMMBack at Percy Hospital, the staff become more concerned about the involvement of poison. While he lay deep in a coma, they take numerous samples of his blood, urine, and stool—which they provide in great secrecy to the French National Police and Military Radiological Detection labs. Under aliases, the samples are analyzed for everything ranging from Arsenic to cocaine.
19:20 SYNC SUHA:The name Etienne Louvet and Frederick Martipon are both nicknames for Yasser Arafat in the hospital—they used this name to protect the analysis and prevent any leaking of any analysis.
19:38 COMMOn November the 8th, doctors initiate a limited test for radioactive poisons measuring Gamma activity only. Tests on almost a Litre of his urine come back negative. But there were further radiologic tests they did not perform—particularly for rare nuclear materials.
19:58 MANGIN SYNC This is the CT scan that was done on the 9th of November is really abnormal. Because as you can see there are a lot hemorrhages in the brain stem and in the ventricle of the brain.
20:23 SYNC MANGINHere the different thing in white is the presence of the blood in the brain.
20:34 COMMOn November the 11th 2004, after four weeks clinging to life, Arafat loses the battle.
20:54 COMMThough he dies of a massive brain hemorrhage, the mystery remains – what is the original event that drives his illness? The most logical way to answer that would have been through an autopsy—which in suspicious cases like this, are routine if not mandatory. But the atmosphere in France is charged. As Arafat’s body leaves for its long journey home, discussions over where his state funeral should be and who will assume his powers drown out any serious talk about having a post-mortem.
21:34 SUHA SYNC I did not ask for an autopsy. It did not even occur to me to ask for an autopsy. You know, when you are under the shock, nothing occurs to you.
21:42 COMMAfter a long procession, that included a stop in Egypt, Arafat’s body is taken for final burial in Ramallah.
21:52 COMMEven in death, the controversy over what killed Arafat remains very much alive. Intense speculation over the years has focused on several theories—all of them unfounded. The most stubborn myth is that he died of AIDS.
22:08 BARCLAY SYNCHe didn’t have AIDS. They did 2 HIV tests, both of which were negative.
22:15 COMMThese French Tests confirm the results of Doctor Toufik Shabban, who was part of the Tunisian team treating Arafat in Ramallah.
22:23 SYNC BIN SHABBAANHIV is my specialty. There is absolutely no way there is HIV.
22;35 BARCLAY SYNCThe things that we know he wasn’t suffering from include most of the popular choices at the time. He wasn’t suffering from leukemia—in fact his bone marrow seemed to be alright right to the very end.MANGIN SYNCThere was no liver cirrhosis—no traces of cancer. No positive results. It’s not really in favor of infectious disease.
22:59 MANGIN SYNCIt is a pity that the post mortem has not been ordered immediately after the death
23:08 BARCLAY SYNCI think we would have ensured that we kept large quantities of the liver, kept the hair and the nails and analyzed them.
23:18 COMMWe ask French officials whether this was done and if not, why not? Michele Aliot-Marie was Defence Minister in 2004—in charge of the military as well its hospitals.
23:32 SYNC MICHELE ALIOT MARIETo my knowledge, no blood samples are kept after death, except where there is a judicial procedure… So if today you say an analysis should be carried out, go speak to Mister Arafat’s family.
23:54 COMMWe do just that, and ask MS. Arafat whether she has any of her late husband’s belongings that might yield forensic clues.
24:02 SYNC SUHAThis is the bag that Percy Hospital gave me after my husband died. I kept is safely. And it contains all the personal belongings of my husband from his hat that he wore in the hospital to his underwear. Maybe with your scientists you can reveal the truth about his death
24:27 COMMAfter mining through the bag—the doctors discover enough hair to perform new tests. But even more promising, they identify stains that are later determined to be Arafat’s blood and urine. Using the most advanced technologies available, they will spend the next several months trying to crack the mystery of what killed Yasser Arafat.
[What Killed Arafat? PART 2]
25:24 COMMNearly 9 years have passed since the suspicious death of Yasser Arafat. Doctors still do not know what caused his death. There was no autopsy—and in 2012, our best hope of a breakthrough may be hiding inside this bag. Al Jazeera has ordered a forensic examination of Arafat’s last personal effects and the clothing he wore in his final days. The Swiss begin a painstaking process to uncover what may have killed Arafat.
26:00 SYNC BARCLAYIf you wanted to get rid of Yasser Arafat, you would use something undetectable—something that would be very difficult to find.
SYNC BARCLAYWhat we’re talking about is a tiny amount.
26:09 SYNC BARCLAYSo how easy would it be to get a poison into Yasser Arafat or anybody else? It would be child’s play. A tiny amount is necessary to kill you—but that’s distributed all over the body.
26:24 COMM…Including the hair. The Swiss scientists begin testing samples discovered in Arafat’s headwear and garments.
26:32 SYNC BARCLAYThe benefit of hair is that as the hair grows, it lays down drugs and poisons in the shaft of the hair. So if I die the same day I was poisoned, the only place that poison will be is in the root of the hair. But if I was poisoned a week earlier, it’s going to be a centimeter up from the root of the hair.
26:57 COMMThe first task: to ensure the hair its actually Yasser Arafat’s. For this the Institute’s Chief of Toxicology, Dr. Marc Augsburger, orders tests on DNA samples taken from Arafat’s widow and 17 year-old daughter Zahwa. Weeks later, there is no uncertainty:
27:17 SYNC AUGSBURGERWe were sure that they are Yasser Arafat's hair because we preformed DNA analysis to it.
27:27 COMMStill, the scientists are limited to what could be recovered--only 23 MG of hair—a tiny amount. It’s enough for just one toxicology screening—with no opportunity for follow up. The results come back—from Arsenic to Thallium, no presence of heavy metal toxins—but there’s a qualified finding.
27:49 SYNC AUGSBURGERWe have no idea about the date of the transfer of the hair from the scalp to the hat so it could be before the 12th of October or after.
28:04 COMMHaving ruled out obvious poisons, we ask the Swiss to consider less conventional ones.
28:10 SYNC AUGSBURGERAfter we obtained the results we …sent the samples to our colleagues in the Radiological Institute to look at other elements like polonium.
28:2730:0430:22 COMMPolonium—when Arafat fell ill in 2004, no doctor would have suspected its use as a poison. But two years later, Alexandre Litvenko, a former Russian spy turned dissident, died a lingering death in a London hospital. Scientists later established that he ingested Polonium given to him by attackers at this London restaurant. The only other methods to deliver this radioactive substance would be through injection or inhalation. A lethal dosage is not even visible to the naked eye. So after a month of testing at the Institute of Radiation Physics, the scientists are astounded by what they find-- high levels of Polonium in Arafat’s toothbrush, as well as three samples from his clothes. A urine stain in his underwear—a blood stain from his hospital cap that he wore as he died—even the sweat-stained collar from his track suit. Polonium does exist in nature in very low levels, formed when radioactive lead decays. So the Swiss want to know if this is natural Polonium—what’s called “Supported Polonium,” or is it the “unsupported version,” which can only come from a nuclear ractor. They examine additional samples from the same bag. Items that had been visibly worn contained significantly higher Polonium levels than those that had not. This suggests the Polonium is coming from contact with Arafat’s bodily fluids rather than the fabric. We caught up with the lead scientist at the Geneva Airport to learn the preliminary results. SYNC BOCHUDWe found that there was a higher value of polonium than what we were expecting but again we have to be sure that this higher value is natural or not natural. It is not sufficient to see a higher value and to conclude it is not natural. For this, Dr. Bochud’s team needs three months. If the Polonium found in Arafat’s samples stay the same—this would mean its natural Polonium, supported by the decay of lead. But if the levels of Polonium decrease—that would confirm that they artificial, or UNSUPPORTED meaning Arafat was exposed to Polonium made in a nuclear reactor.
30:35 SYNC BOCHUD We know that at the time when Arafat was at the hospital they did make some measurements of several litres of urine and we saw the result of the measurement and they were all negative but they did not search for Polonium as such…what we need is to have access on this urine sample.
31:07 COMM w/ UPSOTProfessor Mangin and his team agree. They ask if Al Jazeera would approach Ms. Arafat—the only person eligible under French law to request the frozen vials of blood and urine—which they expected the authorities to have kept.
31:22 COMMOur lawyer in Paris, David Meheut, prepares the detailed applications. To ensure they don’t get lost, Ms. Arafat sets out on journey she hasn’t made since 2004.
31:50 COMM w UPSOTOn the way to the hospital, her daughter Zahwa phones. With her family strongly behind her, and a secret camera to witness the handover, Ms. Arafat delivers the letters straight to the Percy Hospital mailroom.
32:39 COMMWhile we wait for a reply, we start a new line of inquiry, to track down the medical professionals here at Percy who treated Arafat—in case they have any evidence not recorded in the official files. To do this, we obtain Ms. Arafat’s written permission to ask questions on her behalf.
33:01 COMMThere are more than 30 we need to find—and they do not want to talk.
33:06 SYNC UPSOT HELLO?
33:26 PTC: This is becoming a typical outcome, despite receiving the letter from madame Arafat that expressly permits us to discuss her late husband’s care and treatment by these doctors, they’re all saying its impossible because of medical secrecy.
33:41 COMMWe decide to become more assertive—if they won’t talk to us, we’ll go and talk with them.
33:47 COMMWe head to this hospital in Paris and locate Professor Francois Bricaire—chief of infectious diseases. Bricaire was one of handful of civilians doctors the French military brought to Percy when they were running out of ideas. He declines our calls and emails, but we approach him anyways and suggest he speak directly with Ms. Arafat.
34:08 COMMAlso on the list is Dr. Jean-Charles Piette—another one of Frances most distinguished infectious disease experts. We spend an hour together and his interest and knowledge about the case is obvious. But he will not give an interview unless Professor Bricaire agrees to as well.
34:25 COMMWhile a meeting between those two doctors and Ms. Arafat is under consideration, a letter comes from the French Military Police. It was their labs that ran multiple tests on Arafat’s blood and urine—so they should have the samples. She asks us to be present as she opens the letter.
34:44 SUHA SYNCIt says that they are incapable to give us any kind of blood or urine samples because they have been destroyed in the year of 2008 because nobody asked and they destroyed it.
35:05 Given Arafat’s unexplained death, it seems like an odd decision to destroy his biological samples—after just 4 years. Under French Criminal Code, labs are required to keep the samples up to 10 years. But then again, there was never any criminal investigation into Arafat’s death.So it’s a dead end. We will not be able to give the Swiss lab any quantities of Arafat’s blood or urine to test for Polonium.
35:35 COMMMeanwhile, the meeting we’ve arranged for Ms. Arafat begins. The French doctors refused to allow us to be present.
35:42 SYNC SUHAThese doctors told me that Yasser had nothing. That they searched every single illness in Yasser and they told me they did not find anything, anything, anything. I was asking them do they think that its poison? They told me we can’t remove this thinking we can’t remove this aspect—he might be poisoned but we don’t know!
36:07 COMMWith the French doctors yielding little in France, we start to look elsewhere for leads.
36:12 SYNC BARCLAY: The doctors who treated him initially from Tunisia and Egypt are really key witnesses. You need to check through every physical thing they did to him as well.
36:23 COMMWe ask Ms. Arafat to identify the Arab doctors.
36:27 SYNC SUHAHere when all the doctors came and these are the Egyptian doctors who really, the Egyptian doctors were telling me they think that he was poisoned. They said there is something wrong in it. This is Doctor Hentati, the Tunisian doctor who came with us to the Hospital. He thinks that Yasser was poisoned.
36:56 COMMOur first stop, post-revolution Tunisia. With the dictatorship removed, our team arrives with optimism there will be less obstacles. But as we begin on the periphery---and approach members of original Arafat medical team, getting key details is harder than expected.
37:16 OTHMAN: I don’t know. How would I know? There are things, it was the chairman of the medical mission who supervised all of this.SWISHER: Is that person Dr. Faycal Hentati?OTHMAN: Yes, him. Check with Dr. Hentati and he will give you the names of the others on the team.
37:33 COMMThrough emails, phone calls, and finally a personal visit to this neurological clinic where he works—Dr. Faycal Hentati—begs our producer, Naji Tamimi, to stop asking him questions. According to Ms. Arafat, it was Dr. Hentati who insisted that her husband had been poisoned.
37:51 NAJI SYNC: we are looking for the truth and you know that there is a truth behind thisHENTATI: The truth is not with me. The truth is with the politicians. I am now in a new stage and I have nothing. Everything is with the family… Don't involve me in such difficult issues. Was he killed or not, was he poisoned or not, that’s a big problem it’s not a game.
38:16 COMMThe only Tunisian doctor willing to offer useful insights was Dr. Shabaan, an HIV expert who categorically ruled out AIDS as a cause of Arafat’s death.
38:31 SYNC BIN SHABAANSHABAAN: the question I would want to ask is not one I would pose to Israel nor France… the question I would want them to answer is, might it have been possible for the Palestinians at that time… to speed up in taking Yasser Arafat away for treatment, so we would not lose any time
38:51 COMMWe don’t have to go to Palestine to ask that question. As it turns out, Arafat’s personal physician—the doctor was him from the onset of illness until his death in France—is living right here in Tunis. The PLO has since promoted Omar Dakka as their Deputy Ambassador to Tunisia. After declining our interview requests, we head to their Embassy.
39:15 SYNC NAJI: Doctor, I spoke to you earlier, its Naji from Al Jazeera. How are you?DAKA: Yes, welcomeNAJI: it is very important for us to meet with you and to learn about your perspective of his final days.SYNC DAKA: Look to be honest with you. Everything I have, small and big is available in Ramallah. I sat with them for a very long period and they have all the details.
39:49 COMMUnsatisfied with that answer, we go inside the Embassy to pay him a visit. We plead with Dr. Dakka to change his mind and provide us his testimony.
39:59 SWISHER PTC: We’ve just left the office of Doctor Omar Dakka—he was very uncomfortable that we were there. He said there is no chance he is going to give an interview despite him being with Arafat the entire time he was sick until death. He said this is not a medical issue—it’s a political one.
40:15 COMMWe arrive in Egypt—another Arab country in transition. Suha Arafat had told us the lead Egyptian doctor had believed her husband was poisoned. We ask Dr. Zaki for more details.
40:29 SYNC ZAKI: We prepared a report to the former president of the intelligence Omar Soliman. It’s part of the routine—I mean a team went there he should report to his chiefs.
40:41 COMMHoping to get that report, we visit the offices of Dr. Ibrahim Moustapha—the lead physician from the Egyptian medical team.
40:49 Cairo PTC: So we’ve just come back from the office of dr. Ibrahim moustapha—he’s the one who told the former first lady his belief that Yasser Arafat was poisoned. He’s not available but we’re just gonna have to come back. He’s way too important—we’re gonna have to find out what he’s got to say.
41:06 COMMWhen we later return to Dr. Moustapha—he takes my name and quickly has us leave. He later calls us to explain that the Egyptian Military has ordered his silence.
41:17 Most of the doctors appeared too fearful to talk—were we unreasonable to be asking questions about Arafat perhaps being poisoned? His most obvious enemy, Israel, has tried before to assassinate a Palestinian leader with A DIFFERENT undetectable poison.
41:33 SYNC BARCLAYYasser Arafat is in a very strong political position who has lots of enemies…. DB51 Among the facts that you take into account thinking he might be poisoned and so on is what we call previous criminality.
41:45 COMMIn 1997, Israel’s foreign intelligence service, known as Mossad, targeted this man, the political leader of the Hamas party, then living in the Jordanian capital.
41:56 SYNC BEN AMIIt’s very simple…Mossad sent someday in Amman, on the street, in midday, to inject a liquid to Khalid Mishaal, assuming that this will kill him.
42:11 COMMIt did not, because of the vigilance of his bodyguards. They captured the would-be assassins-- a valuable bargaining chip that forced Israel to provide the antidote to save his life.
42:24 SYNC MISHAAL In Jordan the crime was discovered because my entourage had captured the Israeli Mossad operatives. Thus there was clear evidence of Israeli involvement. In the case of Yasser Arafat, there was no material evidence available. However, everyone is convinced that Israel killed Arafat
42:45 SYNC BEN AMI: Listen, if you give me proof I will believe it…but you need to work hard to give me such a proof.
42:55 The best evidence we have is the material being tested at the Institute for Radiation Physics. For 3 months, Professor Bochud’s team has been working to establish whether the Polonium in Arafat’s belonging is what scientists called supported—that is naturally occurring. Or UNSUPPORTED, meaning it was made in a nuclear lab.
43:17 SYNC(2:30) Bochud: So here is the bag of Mr. Arafat. And well as you can see there are many many things inside but here you have for instance his hospital hat. This is the hat he was wearing according to his wife until his last days and it did contain a small blood stain that we did actually cut and measure, and we had an elevated value of Polonium on this stain.
43:47 SYNCIf we look here we can find actually the toothbrushes which we cut the bristles and found that the quantity of Polonium was significantly higher than what we were expecting. As you can see this toothbrush was kept in this box and also in the bag so its hard to imagine that Polonium has been added afterward by natural ways. Swisher: And what percentage of the values of that toothbrush were from unsupported Polonium?Bochud: It was really the majority—more than 60 percent of it was unsupported. This is the underwear that did contain the urine stain which did have the highest value of Polonium which at the end of our measurements unsupported Polonium in large quantity. What we have here also is actually the hat he was wearing when he left Ramallah. It was in a much better state when we received it but we took several samples—different locations—and the conclusion was that we did find some significant Polonium that was present in this sample. All those samples were belongings from Mr. Arafat that were containing visible biological stains—they had been used and we knew that he was wearing these clothings at the hospital so we did measurements on these particular stains. These levels were substantial—they were significant different—which shows there is an abnormal, not normal quantity of Polonium. Swisher: You found unsupported Polonium in these specific items .Bochud: Yes we did. We did find some unsupported—not supported Polonium in these samples, yes.
45:46 COMMSignificant levels of unsupported Polonium, made in a laboratory—exactly the variety that killed Litvenenko. We asked Professor Bochud that if Arafat had been given the same dosage as Litveneko, what levels of Polonium could they expect to find in his samples after 8 years. It’s a simple equation because PO210 decays by half every 138 days.
46.11 SYNCBochud: Yes, if we take the scenario of Mr. Litvenenko, one Gigabeqerel at the beginning would come to about 10 Mbq and what was astonishing in our case was that we found values in the samples of Mr. Arafat that were in the same order of magnitude, as what we could have expected to had if things had been the same with Mr. Litvenenko.
46.33 OVERLAY LAB PORN NEW SYNC 21 SECONDS BOCHUD: We were surprised. one of my colleagues he called me on the phone and told me “I think you got to go up in the lab --we have something to show you.” The first measurement we did was actually just a routine measurement just to make a check and…we thought there is definitely no chance to find Polonium in these samples. SWISHER: So who would have access to this kind of Polonium—Unsupported Polonium?BOCHUD: If you want to have access to this kind of highly strategic element you need to have a good connection with people who are maybe interested in or building nuclear weapons for instance. Every country that has a nuclear reactor—even a civil nuclear reactor—you can produce Polonium 210—it is possible. What makes Polonium a sophisticated choice of poison is the fact that with so few known cases, doctors are still uncertain about its specific symptoms. SYNC: MANGIN: If we put together all the information we have—analytical findings, clinical features, circumstances of the death of Mr. Arafat—it’s difficult to conclude. I don’t want to make too much speculation but I think we have at this stage where it would be of course mandatory to go further and to make more investigation if its possible. SYNC SWISHER: The only answer may lie in Arafat’s grave in Ramallah—currently being renovated. MANGIN: FI10: Bochud: I would say that if I take a bone randomly in a cemetery , the probability of measuring PO would almost be zero. In this case, if I had to give a probability I would say right now with the measurement we did it would be maybe above 50 percent, something like this, so its definitely not 99 percent but its above 50 percent. … I think the only way now if she really wants to know what really happened to her husband is to find a sample—I mean, an exhumation from Mr. Arafat—provide us with a sample that should have a very high quantity of Polonium if he was poisoned. But we have to do it quite fast because Polonium is decaying so we if wait too long, for sure, any possible proof will disappear.
49.20 COMM: For the first time, Mrs. Arafat sees the results.
49.26 SYNC CLAYTON:Suha….Mrs. Arafat….What do you want to do next?
49.33 SYNC SUHAI think that I want to ask to exhume the body of my husband... immediately, because the doctors say that we don't have enough tome. Longer we don't do it. The longer that the proof of any Polonium substance disappears.I think this is my responsibility as a mother, as a wife and a partner to this great man for 20 years and this is my message to the Palestinian Authority that they have to cooperate because the grave and the tombstone of Yasser is in Ramallah. After all we have discovered from the most credible doctors in the whole world we have to go further and exhume Yasser Arafat's body to reveal the truth to all the Muslin and Arab world.