By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Polonium-210 is the deadly substance the Russians used to kill Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian spy and KGB dissident who blamed the Putin regime for acts of alleged Islamic terrorism in Russia. Now that the poison has reportedly been found in the remains of Yasser Arafat’s exhumed body, NBC News has decided to blame Israel, based on questionable reporting done by Al Jazeera, the Muslim Brotherhood channel.
The NBC Nightly News report on Wednesday night was done by reporter Ayman Mohyeldin, and showed a Palestinian official saying, “We need proof that Israeli occupation is responsible, that Israeli government killed him as a result of an official decision.” But NBC didn’t wait for any proof.
As part of its sensational coverage, NBC even featured an “investigative reporter” from Al Jazeera by the name of Clayton Swisher, who has been pursuing these charges for over a year.
The major flaw in the work of NBC News and Al Jazeera is the failure to point out that the Russians had access to the substance and also had a motive to get rid of Arafat.
Arafat was the former leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a Soviet-created terrorist organization that fought for the “liberation” of Palestine from Israel. He died in 2004. His PLO has been eclipsed in power in recent years by Hamas, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate.
Dr. Judea Pearl commented years ago that Al Jazeera has been working to undermine the Palestinian Authority, with whom Israel is now conducting peace talks, and “to end all hopes for a negotiated Mideast settlement.” One way they did that was publishing the “Palestine Papers,” supposedly depicting PLO leaders as dupes of Israel. Clayton Swisher was the Al Jazeera reporter on that story, too.
In fact, Al Jazeera has developed a reputation for causing trouble and turmoil throughout the Middle East, and has been banned from Egypt for its role in sparking bloody riots there.
Hamas has already accused the Israeli government of assassinating Arafat and has called on the Palestinian Authority, run by members of the PLO in the West Bank, to halt peace negotiations with Israel.
So what we have developing here, in terms of the allegations against Israel, is another aspect of the power struggle in the Middle East, with Hamas using the charges to obtain a political advantage as they lay the groundwork for another war against Israel.
But NBC Nightly News treated this propaganda and disinformation campaign against Israel as legitimate news.
Mohyeldin’s failure to highlight the role of Polonium-210 in the death of Litvinenko casts doubt on the entire report. The former KGB dissident fled to London and wrote a sensational book, Blowing Up Russia, on the roots of alleged Islamic terrorism in Russia, before being murdered in 2006.
Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking official ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc, points out in his book, Disinformation, that Polonium-210 was known to be used by the former Soviet Union as a neutron trigger, or initiator, for nuclear weapons. Pacepa says “there is solid ground for postulating that the KGB/FSB may have gotten rid of Arafat and decided to get rid of him,” using polonium. He notes that Litvinenko “suddenly fell ill,” just like Arafat. (British authorities linked Russia and a former KGB agent to Litvinenko’s murder.)
Pacepa says the Russians wanted Arafat out of the picture because they believed he had outlived his usefulness, as a result of his being exposed and becoming known as a long-time KGB agent. Litvinenko had also exposed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al Qaeda, as a KGB-trained operative.
Arafat, Pacepa says, was too “blood-stained,” as a result of his long involvement with terrorism, and the Russians wanted a “new, more Western-looking leader,” who turned out to be Mahmoud Abbas, current president of the Palestinian Authority. But he said few noticed that Abbas was a graduate of Patrice Lumumba University, a KGB-controlled school “whose secret task was to create a new generation of foreigners dedicated to promoting the Kremlin’s interests…”
The ultimate aim, of course, is to destroy Israel in the name of Palestinian “liberation.”
NBC News stacked the deck against Israel. “Just before his death in 2004, Arafat fell mysteriously ill, besieged in his West Bank headquarters by the Israeli military. He was flown to France where he died,” said NBC’s Mohyeldin. “No autopsy was ever performed. Last year an investigation by the Doha-based news channel Al Jazeera led Yasser Arafat’s widow to demand answers. She now believes her husband was murdered.” She was shown on the set of Al Jazeera talking about Arafat being a “great” leader of the Palestinian cause. It was pure propaganda.
Mohyeldin said, “Israel considered Yasser Arafat an obstacle to peace and a terrorist but has always denied involvement in his death.” In the context of the report, however, Israel was already guilty as charged and Israeli leaders were denying the obvious.
It is not just Israel’s opinion, of course, that Arafat was a terrorist. Still, Israel, under U.S. and international pressure to give the Palestinians a separate state, has been negotiating with the PLO, considering it more moderate than Hamas.
The Israel-killed-Arafat story can only cause more turmoil and bloodshed, and perhaps even lead to another Middle East war.