German police detain man suspected of plotting attack
German police say they have foiled a terror plot in the country after arresting a 32-year-old Iranian man suspected of having procured deadly poisons including cyanide and ricin to carry out an attack.
The residence of the suspect in the town of Castrop-Rauxel was also searched, police and prosecutors in a joint statement.
Specialists wearing anti-contamination suits were seen carrying evidence out of the man’s home. A spokesperson for Duesseldorf prosecutors said initial searches did not find any toxic substances.
The person “is suspected of having prepared a serious act of violence endangering the state by allegedly procuring cyanide and ricin to commit an Islamist-motivated attack”, the statement said.
Ricin, found naturally in castor beans, can cause death within 36 to 72 hours from exposure to an amount as small as a pinhead. No known antidote exists.
Castrop-Rauxel is located in North Rhine-Westphalia, one of the country’s most populous states. Its interior minister Herbert Reul said: “We had a serious tip-off that prompted the police to intervene during the night. The authorities are now investigating at full speed.”
While the crime carries a prison term of six months to 10 years, it wasn’t however, immediately clear, how far advanced the plans for the attack were, or if there was a specific target.
The police also detained a second individual as part of the searches, with a spokesperson for the public prosecutor’s office confirming the person to be the suspect’s brother.
According to newspaper Bild, the tip about the alleged plot came from an allied intelligence agency. News agency Dpa cited an unnamed German security official saying there was no indication the suspect had acted on behalf of the Iranian state, but rather that he allegedly supported a Sunni extremist group – a religious minority in Iran.
News about yesterday’s searches also comes a month after German authorities arrested 25 members and supporters of a far-right group that the prosecutor’s office said was preparing a violent overthrow of the state.
Five years ago, German police arrested a Tunisian man and his wife on suspicion of planning to carry out a ricin attack in the name of the Islamic State group. They were later found guilty and sentenced to 10 and eight years’ imprisonment, respectively.
According to German domestic intelligence services, the number of members or supporters of Islamist causes has shrunk by 1.5 per cent to 28,290 individuals in 2021, citing the “military breakup” of the militant Islamic State group.
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