Saturday, July 07, 2012


POLONIUM 210 is a nasty way to off somebody. The assassination of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 was the first known use of the radioactive isotope. WIRED's Deborah Blum has an article about the history of Polonium, "A Poison for Assassins", which takes a close look at the substance. The reason it's so lethal is that it radiates alpha particles (essentially Helium nuclei) intensely. Outside the body, alpha particles are quite innocuous; inside the body, they kill.

How bad is this? By mass, polonium-210 is considered to be about 250,000 times more poisonous than hydrogen cyanide. Toxicologists estimate that an amount the size of a grain of salt could be fatal to the average adult.
The Curies, the discoverers of Radium and Polonium

In other words, a victim would never taste a lethal dose in food or drink. In the case of Litvinenko, investigators believed that he received his dose of polonium-210 in a cup of tea, dosed during a meeting with two Russian agents. (Just as an aside, alpha particles tend not to set off radiation detectors so it’s relatively easy to smuggle from country to country.) Another assassin advantage is that illness comes on gradually, making it hard to pinpoint the event. Yet another advantage is that polonium poisoning is so rare that it’s not part of a standard toxics screen.

ALJAZEERA has paid for analysis of Yasser Arafat's personal artifacts, after rumors "somehow" emerged that Yasser had been assassinated. According to an article by George Galloway, the UK activist-politician, "The strange death of Yasser Arafat", while toxicology results are yet to be posted, apparently those artifacts were "hot".

The Al Jazeera report drew heavily on the hitherto silent widow of the late Palestinian leader, Suha Arafat. She provided the program investigators with his underwear, socks, toothbrush, even his ubiquitous kaffeyah which were then tested by a leading Swiss laboratory.
All showed that the Palestinian icon was positively glowing with radioactive material. Those of us who were at the hospital when Arafat died were in no doubt whatsoever that he had been poisoned. The only conversation between us - his veteran comrades - was on the subject of by whom?

This is where the fun starts. George, being the politically-correct activist that he is, automatically accuses the Israelis. Hating Israelis is fashionable these days amongst the intelligentsia, with some justification, when you look upon the trials and tribulations of the Palestinians. Problem is, it doesn't really account for why the Israelis would want to off Arafat especially when his Hamas successors were even more difficult to deal with.

And when you ask the question, "Who has a vested interest in keeping the Arab-Israeli hostilities at the boiling-point?", other possibilities appear: IMHO, that's Syria, you know, Vlad's "little buddy" — and Vlad sanctioned the Polonium hit on Litvinenko.

Syria has never gotten over the loss of the Golan Heights — and unfortunately, Bashar's Bullies just don't have what it takes to off the Israelis. This can be difficult for the politically-correct to accept, but tough noogies. As well, the Syrians were not supporters of the Fatah political party and Arafat, preferring Hamas.

So, whodunnit? 

1 comment:

Purple library guy said...

I think the Israelis did it. In terms of reliable sources, I'm privileging Uri Avnery, an Israeli peacemonger, ex-Irgun member, fighter in the 1948 war, elder statesman, ex-Knesset member, guy who knows all the players back to 1967 and before, first Israeli to meet with Arafat. Of course, maybe he's just being politically correct.
He says,
"Ariel Sharon’s determination to kill Arafat was well known. Already during the siege of Beirut in Lebanon War I, it was no secret that agents were combing West Beirut for his whereabouts. To Sharon’s great frustration, they did not find him.

Even after Oslo, when Arafat came back to Palestine, Sharon did not let up. When he became Prime Minister, my fear for Arafat’s life became acute. When our army attacked Ramallah during “Operation Defensive Shield” they broke into Arafat’s compound (Mukata’a is Arabic for compound) and came within 10 meters of his rooms. I saw them with my own eyes.

Twice during the siege of many months my friends and I went to stay at the Mukata’a for several days to serve as a human shield. When Sharon was asked why he did not kill Arafat, he answered that the presence of Israelis there made it impossible."

I don't think slagging people as politically correct says much about them or their ideas; it just says you're suffering from an attack of immaturity, hopefully temporary.