Most people probably do not know him by name, but the image of Mohammed Al-Dayeh was a public one for many years. The tough-looking, mustachioed man in military garb served as the trusted bodyguard of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
His proximity to Arafat turned Al-Dayeh into one of the most powerful figures in the PLO leadership, especially during the 1990s and 2000s. If you wanted anything from Arafat — from money to springing your son from prison — Al-Dayeh was your man.
He was glued to Arafat night and day. He accompanied him on his persistent globe-trotting. You can hardly find a photo of Arafat without Al-Dayeh. Insiders say Arafat “adopted” him after he was orphaned from his parents during the civil war in Lebanon.
Al-Dayeh’s fall from grace was rapid once his boss, Arafat, died in 2004. This is typical for dictatorial regimes that are run as a one-man show. Arafat managed the Palestinian Authority (and PLO) as if it were his private fiefdom. When the emperor falls, so do many of those around him, particularly his personal picks.