Nightly News   |  November 06, 2013

Arafat’s death linked to radiation poisoning

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat may have been killed by radiation poisoning, according to a team of Swiss scientists who exhumed Arafat’s body. But if it was murder, who did it? NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin reports.

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>>> there is a new twist tonight in the death of yasser arafat , the long-time palestinian leader who died under mysterious circumstances in 2004 . for years his family has been pushing for an investigation into his death, claiming he was killed by poisoning. now a team of scientists may have confirmed he was. our report from our middle east correspondent ayman mohyeldin.

>> reporter: for nine years his death has been a mystery. what killed palestinian leader yasser arafat may have finally been answered -- radiation poisoning . a team of swiss scientists who exhumed and examined his body say their findings moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium 210.

>> within his skeleton they found values that far exceed environmental levels by 18 to 36 times.

>> this will be a sacred site now, a shrine for palestinians going on decades into the future.

>> reporter: before his death in 2004 , he fell mysteriously ill, besieged in his west bank headquarters by the israeli military he was flown to france where he died. no autopsy was performed. last year an investigation by aljazeera led yasser arafat 's widow to demand answers. she ables her husband was murdered.

>> it's a shock iing -- to get rid of --

>> reporter: if it was murder who did it? wh how polonium got into his body is a question palestinians want answered.

>> we need proof that iz areally occupation is responsible, that israeli government killed him as a result of an official decision.

>> reporter: israel considered yasser arafat an obstacle to peace and a terrorist but has denied involvement in his death. to palestinians he was the leader of their long struggle for statehood. controversial all his life, his death is now just as controversial. ayman mohyeldin, nbc news, new york.