Iranian man arrested in Germany suspected of plotting chemical attack

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Berlin A 32-year-old Iranian man has been arrested in Germany on suspicion of planning a deadly chemical attack, officials said Sunday.

Police and prosecutors said the man and another person were held overnight in the town of Castrop-Rauxel, northwest of Dortmund.

In a joint statement, they said the man is suspected of planning a serious attack motivated by Islamic extremism, for which he allegedly tried to obtain the powerful toxins cyanide and ricin.

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Specialists in anti-contamination suits were seen carrying evidence from the man’s home.

A spokesman for Düsseldorf prosecutors later said an initial search turned up no toxic substances, the German news agency dpa reported.

German police arrest an Iranian suspected of planning an 'Islam-motivated' attack
TV cameras have been set up in front of a building where German police have taken into custody a 32-year-old Iranian citizen suspected of obtaining the deadly poisons cyanide and ricin to carry out an “Islamist-motivated” attack, in Castrop- Rauxel, Germany, on January 8, 2023.

STEPHANE NITSCHKE / REUTERS


It was not immediately clear how far the plans for an attack had progressed and whether the suspect had selected a specific target.

Germany’s dpa news agency quoted North Rhine-Westphalia’s top security official, Herbert Reul, as saying authorities had “received a serious tip that prompted the police to intervene the very same night”.

The tabloid newspaper Bild reported that the tip about the alleged plot came from an Allied intelligence agency.

Dpa quoted an unnamed German security official as saying there was no indication that the suspect had acted on behalf of the Iranian state, but rather that he allegedly supported a Sunni extremist group. Sunnis are a religious minority in Iran.

Five years ago, German police arrested a Tunisian man and his wife on suspicion of planning a ricin attack in the name of the Islamic State terror group. They were later found guilty and sentenced to ten and eight years in prison respectively.

Even small amounts of ricin, which is produced from the seeds of castor oil plants, can kill an adult if eaten, injected or inhaled.