Born Mohammed Abad Arouf Arafat in 1929 (Yasser is a nickname meaning 'carefree'). Grew up in with his uncle in Jerusalem. Educated as an engineer in Cairo. Died Thursday November 11, 2004 at a military hospital outside Paris, France.

Arafat founded the terrorist organization Fatah, and led this organization, now a faction of the larger Palestine Liberation Organization, until his death. He became chairman of the PLO in 1969. In 1970, King Hussein of Jordan ordered the PLO expelled from his country by force. the PLO suffered heavy losses and the survivors ended up in Beirut, Lebanon.

In 1974, speaking for the PLO, he became the first representative of a non-governmental organization to address the United Nations General Assembly .

In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon to force the PLO from Beirut, only to see Araft resurface again in Tunis.

Arafat oversaw decades of terrorist activity by Fatah and the PLO. He was rumored to be involved with Black September, the terrorist group that killed Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. He supported Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War, which alienated many of his Arab allies.

In the 1990s he secretly conducted peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin, resulting in the Oslo Peace Accords. Arafat, Rabin and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize.

Afterwards, Arafat was allowed to return to his supporters. He was elected president of the Palestinian Authority in 1996. However, his presidency was not smooth, often seeming unable to control his people or the Intifada uprising against Israel. Blockaded by Israeli forces within his compound in Ramallah since March 2002, Arafat retained control over the authority, but was surrounded by scandals and allegations of corruption.

Taken ill in 2004 by stomach problems, Israel granted permission for Arafat to leave the compound for treatment abroad, and in October 2004 he was flown to France, where he died on November 11, 2004. Israel has granted permission for his burial in Ramallah.

Arafat was instantly recognizable by his ghutra and scruffy beard.

More info at