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Was the 'Smoking Gun' in the Case of Yasser Arafat's Death Just Discovered?

"We are revealing a real crime, a political assassination."

Palestinians take part in a candlelight vigil to mark the sixth anniversary of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat outside the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank, Nov. 10, 2010. (Getty Images)

Swiss scientists found at least 18 times the normal level of radioactive polonium on samples of the exhumed remains of Yasser Arafat, according to Al Jazeera, which obtained an exclusive copy of the report.

Palestinians take part in a candlelight vigil to mark the sixth anniversary of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat outside the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank, Nov. 10, 2010. (Getty Images)

Arafat's widow, Suha Arafat, is convinced the results prove the Palestinian leader was murdered.

"We are revealing a real crime, a political assassination," she told Reuters. "This has confirmed all our doubts ... it is scientifically proved that he didn't die a natural death and we have scientific proof that this man was killed."

Suha Arafat is interviewed by the Associated Press at her home in Sliema, Malta, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (Photo: AP)

However, the scientists themselves are less certain.

The 108-page report by the University Centre of Legal Medicine in Lausanne states that elevated levels of polonium “moderately supports” the claims that polonium caused Arafat's death. Forensic experts from Switzerland, Russia and France all took samples from the body when it was exhumed last November. The other results have not yet been published.

But U.K. forensic scientist and retired detective Dave Barclay expressed certainty about the significance of the results.

“Yasser Arafat died of polonium poisoning,” he told Al Jazeera. “We found the smoking gun that caused his death. What we don’t know is who’s holding the gun at the time.”

“The level of polonium in Yasser Arafat’s rib…is about 900 milibecquerels,” Barclay added. “That is either 18 or 36 times the average, depending on the literature.”

Accusations of foul play immediately began to surface after Arafat's 2004 death, particularly directed at Israel. The Israeli government strongly denied having any role.

The Arafat family has expressed hope that the next step of the investigation sheds light on why the elevated levels of polonium were in the Palestinian leader's system.

"I want to find out who did it and their motive for doing it," Arafat's daughter, Zahwa, told The Guardian.

Al Jazeera has long been investigating the cause of Arafat's death, and in July 2012 aired the program, "What Killed Arafat?"

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