Plot to cre­ate deady toxin foiled

Irish Examiner - - World News - Kirseten Grieshaber

Ger­man au­thor­i­ties have thwarted a plot by a Tu­nisian man who cre­ated the deadly toxin ricin us­ing cas­tor bean seeds and planned to use the poi­son in an Is­lamic ex­trem­ist at­tack in Ger­many, fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors said yes­ter­day.

Sief Al­lah H, whose last name wasn’t given in line with Ger­man pri­vacy laws, was taken into cus­tody on Tuesday dur­ing a raid on his apart­ment in Cologne.

The 29- year-old was for­mally ar­rested on Wednesday af­ter a judge re­viewed the ev­i­dence.

Au­thor­i­ties are still in­ves­ti­gat­ing ex­actly how the sus­pect planned to use the toxin, but said he was work­ing on a “bi­o­log­i­cal weapon” at­tack in Ger­many.

“We don’t know how, or how widely, the ricin was to have been dis­trib­uted,” said pros­e­cu­tors’ spokesman Markus Sch­mitt.

The sus­pect is be­lieved to have be­gun procur­ing ma­te­rial on­line in mid-May, pros­e­cu­tors said.

He suc­ceeded in cre­at­ing the toxin this month and in­ves­ti­ga­tors found it in the apart­ment search.

Pros­e­cu­tors wouldn’t say how much ricin the sus­pect had pro­duced.

These ed soft he cast or 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.

The sus­pect is not known to have been a mem­ber of a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion but did have con­tacts with ex­trem­ists, Mr Sch­mitt said.

“He had con­tacts with peo­ple in the ji­hadist spec­trum,” Mr Sch­mitt said, but would not elab­o­rate.

He also would not com­ment on a re­port in the Bild news­pa­per that Amer­i­can in­tel­li­gence tipped off Ger­man in­ves­ti­ga­tors af­ter they de­tected the sus­pect’s on­line ac­tiv­ity buy­ing the seeds to make ricin.

Bild also re­ported that the sus­pect bought bomb-mak­ing ma­te­ri­als and chem­i­cals used in the pro­duc­tion of ricin.

It said the sus­pect lived in the Chor­weiler neigh­bour hood of Cologne with his wife, a con­vert to Is­lam, and four chil­dren.

He sup­pos­edly used in­struc­tions to make a ricin bomb that had been posted on­line by IS.

His wife was ini­tially taken into cus­tody but was later re­leased, pros­e­cu­tors said.

Ger­man weekly Der Spiegel re­ported that the sus­pect had bought sev­eral com­po­nents that could be used to build a bomb, as well as “a thou­sand seeds from a plant that can be used to make ricin”.

Ricin is one of the world’s most lethal tox­ins — 6,000 times more pow­er­ful than cyanide.

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