Bassam Abu Sharif, former senior advisor to Yasser Arafat announced Monday the results of the tests conducted to identify the kind of poison that killed the late Palestinian president.
According to Abu Sharif, the tests were conducted by “the most prominent forensic toxicology expert in the UK” yet he neither revealed his identity nor mentioned the name of the institution that carried out the research.
The tests, Abu Sharif explained, revealed that the poison used to kill Arafat is called “thallium,” a rare chemical substance whose effects are very hard to detect.
“This fatal substance is extracted from sea weed and comes in the form of a liquid that is colorless, tasteless, and odorless,” Abu Sharif said Monday in a statement of which Quds Press obtained a copy.
One of the characteristics of that chemical compound, Abu Sharif added, is that when it is added to any food or drink, it doesn't make any difference in taste, color, or smell. It can also be injected into the veins.
“Yet the report explained that the most effective way is when the poison reaches the body through the tongue, so it could be added to water, tea, and coffee or to fruits and vegetables and even medicine.”
Abu Sharif said that British and European toxicology experts are not familiar with this poison and that only the forensic toxicology expert was able to identify it.
“According to the expert, this poison is highly effective and no antidote can stop its effect if five hours pass after injection or addition to food or drink.”
The expert explained that this poison works on slowly damaging the inner systems of the person who takes it one dose after the other, starting with the liver, kidneys, lungs, then finally the brain.
Two to eight months
The period the poison takes to kill a person, the expert added, depends on many factors like the person’s age, body and immunity.
“But he said that generally this period ranges between two and eight months and this gives the culprits a good chance to get away from the crime scene.”
The expert added that the symptoms of the poison include fits of nausea and feebleness that come and go, so that the body can at times restore its power for a while then weakens again. Yet after a while, these intervals get shorter until the victim feels dizziness all the time.
At a more advanced stage, hair starts falling from the legs then the rest of the body till finally the head in the last stage.
In the final stage, the victim starts shaking a lot and loses the ability to stand for more than a few moments and death happens when blood no longer reaches the brain.
The report explained that it is the breaking of the red blood cells and the body’s inability to produce more of them that destroys the victim’s brain and other systems and constitutes the main reason for death.
Abu Sharif pointed out that the information he uncovered is part of a more comprehensive report whose details he will announce soon.
“The information I have is not yet complete. This is just part of it.”
Abu Sharif said he is willing to submit the information he has now to an investigation committee that is “responsible and serious.”
He also added that he had warned current Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the possibility of facing the same fate.
“I told Abbas he has to be very cautious because there might be similar Israeli plans to get rid of him and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Israel wants Palestinian leadership positions vacant.”
Abu Sharif said that he also warned Arafat a few months before he was poisoned.
“I specifically told him that poison is Israel’s main weapon.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)