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Report: Fatah says Dahlan involved in poisoning Arafat

Aug. 7, 2011 11:49 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 8, 2011 1:21 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Fatah has accused ousted party strongman Muhammad Dahlan of "having a hand" in poisoning late President Yasser Arafat, Arabic-language media reported Saturday.

Arafat died in a Paris hospital in November 2004. The exact cause of his death remains a mystery, but popular belief among Palestinians holds that he was poisoned.

According to Al-Jazeera's Arabic-language news site, Fatah's commission of inquiry also found that Dahlan was linked to assassination attempts on other Palestinian leaders and that he had planned a coup in the West Bank.

Senior Fatah leaders Azzam Al-Ahmad, At-Tayyib Abdul-Rahim, Othman Abu Gharbiyya and Nabil Shaath submitted the findings of the inquiry, according to the news site.

Palestinian ambassadors were urged to avoid dealing with Dahlan and Interpol was asked to help arrest the former strongman, the report said.

Palestinian Authority sources told the news site that the West Bank government had come under international and regional pressure not to pursue Dahlan.

Dahlan was expelled from Fatah's governing body in June. The party rejected an appeal against the decision by Dahlan, who once headed the PA's feared preventative security forces.

Shortly after Dahlan's appeal failed, PA forces raided his Ramallah home and detained several of his bodyguards.

Dahlan was voted out of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, the party's governing body, on June 12, for suspected "criminal acts" that were not specified.

Reports leaked earlier this year said the former Fatah strongman in Gaza was suspected of building a private armed militia in the West Bank.

Dahlan denied the allegations, responding with an online video message.

"A coup against whom? Do we have an authority in Ramallah to coup against? We are under occupation, one female soldier rules over the West Bank; the Civil Administration governs the West Bank," he said in June.

Dahlan was formerly a leading Fatah figure known for his fierce opposition to the Hamas movement. He led a merciless crackdown on the group in the 1990s, rounding up thousands of Islamists who refused to recognize the legitimacy of the newly-created Palestinian Authority.

But he fell from grace in June 2007 after the humiliating rout of his forces by Hamas fighters during days of fierce street battles in Gaza, when Hamas expelled Fatah forces from the territory.

Two years later, he returned to the political stage when he was elected to the Fatah central committee in August 2009.

But in December 2010, he was suspended from the committee which said it had set up a commission of inquiry to examine his finances and claims he tried to set up a personal militia.
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