The ricin terrorist attack being planned by a Tunisian invader living in Cologne, Germany, was going to be twice as big as originally thought, and could have killed up to 1,000 people, police have confirmed.
Police in bio-hazard suits prepare to enter the Tunisian’s apartment.
The Tunisian, identified only as Sief Allah H., had manufactured ricin, a poison found in castor beans, for the suspected attack, the president of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), Holger Münch, told German broadcaster RBB-Inforadio.
He was arrested on June 21 after a police raid on his apartment in Cologne.
According to reports in the German media, the ricin plot was even “bigger than initially suspected” as police found more than 3,000 castor bean seeds in the suspect’s Cologne apartment—enough to kill a thousand people.
Ricin is 6,000 times more potent than cyanide and is lethal in minute doses if swallowed, inhaled or injected. It has no known antidote.
According to federal prosecutors, about 3,150 castor bean seeds — more than three times the number initially suspected — and 84.3 milligrams of ricin were found in the suspect’s apartment.
“There were very concrete preparations for such an act using what you might call a biological bomb,” Münch said, describing it as an “unprecedented” threat.
Münch said that objects that could be used to make a bomb were also found in the searches.
Federal prosecutors said the man had been in contact with “persons from the radical Islamist spectrum,” and that they were still probing the content of the communications.
They said the Tunisian, who is married to a German woman who converted to Islam, had twice tried to travel to Syria last year.
Prosecutors say the suspect bought the seeds online, and used instructions posted online by the “Islamic State” (IS) militant group to make ricin.
Left: The Tunisian is led away in handcuffs, while right, his wife—pregnant with their eighth child—is escorted away by police.
Europol, Europe’s police agency, warned on Wednesday that the risk of terrorist attacks by Islamist militants “remains acute.”
“As IS gets weaker, it has been urging its followers to carry out lone actor type attacks in their home countries, rather than guiding them to travel to the so-called caliphate,” Europol said.
Authorities believe the man may have stored more ricin in other apartments in the building and are combing the area along with specialists from the Robert Koch Institute, the German agency responsible for monitoring public health as well as diseases and infections, reported local public broadcaster WDR.