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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Tunisian arrested over ricin attack plot in Germany

The 29-year-old was arrested as police raided a flat in Cologne and found the deadly toxin

Police officers in protective gear raided a flat in Cologne late Tuesday where they found the deadly drug ricin. OUT / AFP / dpa / David Young
Police officers in protective gear raided a flat in Cologne late Tuesday where they found the deadly drug ricin. OUT / AFP / dpa / David Young

Prosecutors claimed Thursday to have foiled an Islamist extremist plot to attack Germany using the deadly toxin ricin.

A specialist police unit found the ricin late Tuesday when they raided the home of a Tunisian man, name only as Sief Allah H, in the western city of Cologne.

Security officials had been alerted to a potential plot after he allegedly bought 1,000 ricinus seeds and an electronic coffee grinder in May to create the toxin. Officials said that he successfully created ricin in June.

Ricin, which can be inhaled in the form of powder or injected, is made from the poisonous shell of the castor plant seed.

It attacks a body’s cells and can kill in less than three days. There is no known antidote, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Prosecutors said that the man was working on a “biological weapon” attack in Germany but are still investigating what he planned to target and how. They said that the had no evidence of a connection with any extremist group.

The man had been in Germany since 2016 and was an ISIS supporter, according to city newspaper Kolner Stadt-Anzeiger. It said that the authorities had been watching him for some time before moving in. Bild newspaper said that US intelligence had tipped off German investigators

It also claimed that the suspect, described as a married man with four children, bought bomb-making materials. He was said to have used instructions to make a ricin bomb that had been posted online by ISIS, according to the newspaper.

Ricin has featured in a number of alleged terrorist and criminal plots. A letter containing the deadly substance was sent to Barack Obama in 2013 but was intercepted before it reached the then president.

A US man later admitted sending the letter to the president and two other officials and was jailed for 25 years. He had attempted to frame a rival.