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 arrested overnight in the town of Castrop-Ruxel, northwest of Dortmund.
In a joint statement, they said the man was suspected of planning a dangerous attack motivated by Islamic extremism, for which he allegedly sought the powerful poisons cyanide and ricin.
The specialists in anti-contamination suits were seen carrying evidence outside the man’s home.
The dpa news agency reported that a spokesperson for the Dusseldorf prosecutor’s office later said that an initial search of the building had not revealed any toxic substances.
It was not immediately clear how advanced the attack plans were and whether the suspect had chosen a specific target.
The German news agency (DPA) quoted Herbert Roll, a senior security official in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, as saying that the authorities had received “serious information that prompted the police to intervene that same night.”
The tabloid newspaper Bild reported that information about the alleged plot came from an allied intelligence agency.
The dpa news agency quoted an unidentified German security official as saying that there was no indication that the suspect had acted on behalf of the Iranian state, and even supported a Sunni extremist group. Sunnis are a religious minority in Iran.
Germany’s top security official thanked the police and specialists from the country’s disease control agency who took part in the raid.
“Our security services take any information about Islamic terrorist threats seriously and act,” Interior Minister Nancy Farr said in a statement, adding that 21 Islamist attacks had been prevented in Germany since the beginning of the century.
Noting the importance of international cooperation in combating extremist threats, Visser said further investigations by Düsseldorf prosecutors would show whether the suspicions that led to the police operation were justified.
Five years ago, German police arrested a Tunisian man and his wife on suspicion of planning to carry out a ricin attack in the name of the Islamic State. They were later found guilty He was sentenced to 10 and 8 years in prison, respectively.
Even small amounts of ricin, which is produced from the seeds of castor oil plants, can kill an adult if ingested, injected, or inhaled.
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