Tu­nisian held in Ger­many ‘sought to build bio-weapon’

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - WORLD -

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. –

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