Intelligence agencies routinely gather medical intelligence on the world’s political leaders. Officially, this information is used to ascertain the viability for continuation in office for leaders. However, there is a dark side to such intelligence collection.
Medical intelligence also contains data on the status of a leader’s immune system and his or her susceptibility to a number of diseases or other external health threat. Such information can be useful in devising “natural” assassination weapons, such as cancer, radiation poisoning, and food poisoning.
The collection of information on medical factors is known as “medical intelligence.” MEDINT, as it is also known, is defined by the US Department of Defense as “That category of intelligence resulting from collection, evaluation, analysis, and interpretation of foreign medical, bio-scientific, and environmental information that is of interest to strategic planning and to military medical planning and operations for the conservation of the fighting strength of friendly forces and the formation of assessments of foreign medical capabilities in both military and civilian sectors.”
Intelligence agencies take MEDINT one step further. The Central Intelligence Agency and Israel’s Mossad, in particular, use MEDINT to analyze the medical conditions of foreign leaders, as well as their treatment regimen and schedules, to determine the best methods for administering toxic dose of medicines, pathogens, or other deadly agents to cause death, in other words, medical assassination.
Eight years after his death, the body of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat is to be exhumed. After researchers at a Swiss institute discovered high levels of radioactive polonium on Arafat’s clothes and other personal effects and a French court ordered an inquiry into Arafat’s death, an autopsy will be conducted on Arafat’s body. Arafat fell seriously ill while being held as a virtual hostage by the Israelis at his Ramallah, Palestine headquarters. Arafat was flown to hospital in Paris and died a month later in November 2004. Mossad is believed by many to have carried out a “medical assassination” of Arafat.
At the same time that Arafat’s exhumation and autopsy was scheduled, Turkish investigators discovered high levels of DDT, strychnine, and polonium in the body of Turkish President Turgut Ozal.
Ozal died suddenly from a heart attack in 1993 but the new information from a recent autopsy suggests he may have been assassinated through poisoning. Ozal’s widow said her late husband died after drinking a glass of lemonade. Ozal made enemies of the Turkish military and its secret “deep state” network known as “Ergenekon.” Ozal was also an opponent of George H. W. Bush’s “Desert Storm” invasion of Iraq and he made enemies inside the CIA as well as in Mossad.
Two other leaders, known for their nationalist policies, may have also fell victim to CIA medical assassins. Indonesian President Ahmed Sukarno, confined to house arrest after his overthrow in 1965 in a CIA coup, died in 1970. There is evidence that the CIA may have altered Sukarno’s kidney medication. Sukarno was confined to Bogor Palace and his level of medical treatment was dictated by the Suharto regime and their CIA interlocutors. After falling seriously ill, Sukarno died in the Jakarta Army Hospital.
After Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s sudden death from what was believed to be a heart attack in 1970, there were reports that he may have been poisoned. An aide to Nasser, who was close to Vice President Anwar Sadat, reportedly hid from forensic examiners nail clippings and hair samples taken from the body of Nasser for later testing. Upon becoming Egyptian president, Sadat reversed many of Nasser’s policies, including ejecting Soviet military advisers, opening relations with Israel, and steering Egypt into the Western camp.
In 1961, the CIA station in Leopoldville, Congo tried to poison nationalist Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. Eventually, Lumumba was killed by a Belgian mercenary firing squad in the employment of the CIA. There were also many attempts by the CIA to poison Cuban President Fidel Castro. In 1976, the former leftist president of Brazil, Joao Goulart, died from a sudden heart attack in exile in Uruguay. A former Uruguayan intelligence agent later revealed that Goulart’s heart medication pills were altered in order to have a "contrary effect." The Goulart family’s cook in Uruguay was later discovered to be a Brazilian intelligence agent with links to the CIA. Goulart was ousted in a 1964 CIA-led coup.
After cases of cancer began to affect several Latin American progressive leaders, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, himself battling cancer, suggested the CIA had dusted off its old medical assassination program. The day following Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s announcement that she was being treated for thyroid cancer, Chavez stated, “Would it be so strange that they've [the Americans] invented the technology to spread cancer and we won't know about it for 50 years?" Cancer also plagued Paraguay’s President Fernando Lugo (later ousted in a CIA-backed coup), former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and Brazilian incumbent President Dilma Rousseff.
To Bolivian President Evo Morales and Ecuadorian leader Rafael Correa, Chavez had a dire warning, “Evo, take care of yourself. Correa, be careful. We just don't know.” After the revelations about the deaths of Arafat and Ozal, Chavez has every right to be concerned.