German Authorities Say They Prevented Islamist Plot Planning Deadly Ricin Attack

Photo by Jens Kalaene/AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, German prosecutors announced that authorities had prevented a deadly attack from a Tunisian national that would have used the virulent toxin ricin.

The prosecutors said the 29-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday night on suspicion on violating the country's War Weapons Control Act. Investigators found the ricin during a search of his Cologne apartment.

Authorities were unsure what the suspect’s plan was, but added he was working on a “biological weapon” and there was "initial suspicion" of him readying a terrorist attack. The New York Post reported the suspect began obtaining material online for his concoction, including seeds to make ricin, in mid-May. Authorities stated, “He procured 1,000 castor bean seeds online as well as an electronic coffee grinder.” The Post added the suspect “supposedly used instructions for the making of a ricin bomb that had been posted online by the extremist Islamic State group.”

Elmar Thevessen, a terrorism expert with NBC News' German partner ZDF, said, "Ricin is deadlier than then the venom of a cobra. A tiny amount is enough to kill an adult. In can be dissolved in water or added to food. There is no antidote." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adds, “Death from ricin poisoning could take place within 36 to 72 hours of exposure, depending on the route of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, or injection) and the dose received.”

In December 2016, another Tunisian national, Anis Amri, rammed a truck into crowds at a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 people.

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