German police have taken into custody a 32-year-old Iranian citizen suspected of having procured deadly poisons cyanide and ricin to commit an “Islamist-motivated” attack, authorities in western Germany said on Sunday. The residence of the suspect in the city of Castrop-Rauxel was searched as part of the investigation, according to a joint press release from the Duesseldorf public prosecutor’s office and police in the cities of Recklinghausen and Muenster.
“The suspect 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. This, police said, carries a prison sentence of between 6 months to 10 years.
Castrop-Rauxel is located in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, whose 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.” Police said a second individual was detained as part of the searches, adding a decision on whether to issue an official arrest warrant would be made at a later date as the investigation is continuing.
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. According to German domestic intelligence services, the number of members or supporters of Islamist causes has shrunk by 1.5% to 28,290 individuals in 2021, citing the “military breakup” of the militant Islamic State group.
On Dec. 19, 2016, Anis Amri, a failed Tunisian asylum seeker with Islamist links, drove a truck into a crowded western Berlin Christmas market, killing 11 people and injuring dozens. News about Sunday’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.
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