Heavily armed special task force agents in radioactive protective suits stormed an apartment building in Castrop-Rauxel in North Rhine-Westphalia, Western Germany overnight Sunday, and arrested an Iranian national, 32, dressed only in boxer shorts and makeshift jackets, Bild reported. Apparently, the cops dragged him out of bed. Before he was taken to a police station for interrogation, the suspect was examined for biological and chemical hazards.
According to a police spokesperson in Münster, the man is suspected of procuring cyanide and ricin in preparation for carrying out an “Islamist-motivated attack.”
Investigators are now trying to secure the biological warfare agents and other evidence in the Iranian’s apartment. The accused and one other person were taken into custody for the time being. Whether the accused is brought before a magistrate judge depends on the evidence that would be found.
The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has been investigating the Iranian terror suspect for days. A “friend of the secret service” is said to have warned German authorities about the danger of a pending chemical bomb attack. It is not yet clear how far the plans have progressed, and whether there already was a target.
“We had a serious tip that prompted the police to intervene overnight,” said North Rhine-Westphalia’s Interior Minister Herbert Reul on Sunday morning. Now the police are investigating the case “at high pressure,” according to Reul.
To be on the safe side, a decontamination route was set up in the Castrop-Rauxel fire station in case emergency services became contaminated when accessing it. Employees of the Robert Koch Institute were also on hand as consultants because of the biological and chemical risks for the emergency services workers, as were several BKA officials and a bomb-defusing squad.
As early as 2018, a Tunisian-born Islamist terrorist tried to detonate a ricin bomb in Cologne. Together with his wife, the man produced the biological warfare agent from castor bean seeds and attempted to detonate the deadly explosive device, complete with 250 steel balls.
ISIS has repeatedly called on its followers to carry out such devastating bio-attacks and posted instructions on how to build bombs.
Depending on the type of intake, poisoning with ricin is fatal within 36 to 72 hours. Symptoms range from headaches and cramps to liver and kidney failure. There is no specific antidote.
In Germany, the preparation of a serious violent act endangering the state is punishable by a prison sentence of up to 10 years.