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Yasser Arafat May Have Been Poisoned

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In this handout photo from the PPO, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat makes the victory salute during a meeting in his headquarters July 10 , 2004 in Ramallah, West Bank. (Photo by Omar Rashidi/PPO via Getty Images)
In this handout photo from the PPO, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat makes the victory salute during a meeting in his headquarters July 10 , 2004 in Ramallah, West Bank. (Photo by Omar Rashidi/PPO via Getty Images)

Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned. That is the astonishing conclusion of a new Al Jazeera report.

Arafat died on November 11, 2004, just a few weeks after falling ill. The long-time Palestinian leader had earlier been flown from his West Bank headquarters to a military hospital in Paris, where he spent his last days in a coma.

According to the Al Jazeera report, Arafat was in good health until his condition suddenly deteriorated. In addition, tests conducted by the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, may suggest that the 75-year-old leader was poisoned. Scientists in Lausanne say they found abnormal levels of polonium on Arafat's final belongings.

“I can confirm to you that we measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr. Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids,” Dr. Francois Bochud, the director of the institute, told Al Jazeera.

The most famous case of polonium poisoning was the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko. The 43-year-old dissident died in 2006 after having been poisoned with radioactive isotope polonium-210, the New York Times explains.

AFP notes that French officials never revealed the precise cause of Arafat's death because of privacy laws.