German police raided the home of Sief Allah Hammami in Cologne on Wednesday, arresting the 29-year-old Tunisian and his wife. The wife was subsequently freed, while Hammami remains in custody. He lived in the Chorweiler neighborhood with his wife, a German-born convert to Islam, and their four children. Sief had successfully manufactured the deadly toxin ricin, reportedly using instructions posted online by Islamic State. It is the first known example of European Islamists successfully manufacturing the poison. (Telegraph)
The Rheinische Post newspaper reported that the man had managed to produce enough ricin for 250 to 1,000 toxic doses, citing security sources.
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.
So far, only the two arrests have been made, and only Hammurami has been held. Police have not identified any other suspects.
Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence department Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), issued a cautious warning: “It’s very likely a terrorist attack was possibly thwarted.” (UPI)
He also explained that the German agency had been warned by someone who noticed Hammami’s internet purchases of an electric coffee grinder and 1,000 castor beans. Ricin can be extracted from finely ground castor beans. He would not comment specifically on the report from the German Bild newspaper that a U.S. intelligence agency was responsible for the warning that prevented the attack. It is standard procedure for intelligence services to not directly identify other intelligence services that render aid.
Hammami has been charged with violation of Germany’s War Weapons Act and “preparing a serious act of violence against the state.” (DW.com)