Tunisian held in Germany ‘sought to build bio-weapon’
FRANKFURT, Germany: A Tunisian arrested in Germany is suspected of trying to build a biological weapon using the deadly poison ricin, prosecutors said Thursday, stressing however there was no indication of any “concrete attack plans.”
The 29-year-old, identified as Sief Allah H., was detained after police stormed his flat in Cologne late Tuesday, where they found unknown “toxic substances” that turned out to be ricin.
“He is strongly suspected of intentionally manufacturing biological weapons,” federal prosecutors said in a statement.
The suspect has been charged with violating German law on the possession of weapons of war, and “preparing a serious act of violence against the state.”
But prosecutors cautioned that it remained unclear whether he was planning to use ricin to carry out an Islamist attack in Germany.
“There are no indications that the accused belongs to a terrorist organization, nor of any concrete attack plans at a certain time or place,” they said.
According to various German media, the police raid came after German intelligence services were tipped off by foreign authorities who had grown suspicious of the suspect’s online purchases.
Prosecutors said Sief Allah H. started buying the necessary equipment and ingredients to make ricin in mid-May – including an online purchase of “a thousand castor seeds and an electric coffee grinder.”
He succeeded in manufacturing the toxin earlier this month. The dangerous substance has been secured by the authorities, they added.
The seeds of the castor bean plant are naturally poisonous and can be used to create ricin. The substance kills the body’s cells by preventing them from creating protein. A few milligrams are enough to kill an adult if it’s eaten, injected or inhaled. Early symptoms include chest pain, breathing difficulties and coughing.
There are no indications that the accused belongs to a terrorist group
Ricin has no known antidote and is one of the world’s most lethal toxins. It is 6,000 times more powerful than cyanide.
German news weekly Der Spiegel reported that Sief Allah H. was thought to have been following instructions disseminated by Daesh (ISIS) on how to build a bomb containing ricin.
The case comes less than a month after French authorities said they had foiled a terror attack possibly involving the use of ricin. Two brothers of Egyptian origin were arrested.
Germany remains on high alert for extremist attacks after several assaults claimed by Daesh in the country. –