German police arrested a 32-year-old Iranian national on Sunday in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia on suspicion of planning an Islamist terror attack using biological weapons.
In a joint statement on Sunday, Munster police and the Dusseldorf prosecutors’ office revealed the man is “suspected of having prepared a serious act of violence that endangers the state by procuring cyanide and ricin to commit an Islamist-motivated attack.”
Both cyanide and ricin are potentially deadly intoxicants, and there is currently no known antidote for the latter.
Investigators are understood to have searched a residential home in the town of Castrop-Rauxel for the toxic substances. Authorities found no evidence of the substances in question on the property.
Authorities cordoned off a perimeter around the suspect’s apartment building as heavily armed police wearing protective suits were deployed at the site.
A second person, also of Iranian nationality according to German tabloid Bild, was detained during the operation, with photographs showing one suspect being escorted away from the premises dressed only in his boxer shorts.
The warning of a potential chemical bomb attack on German territory came via a tip-off from the FBI in the United States, according to Die Welt. The FBI reportedly intercepted a chat message from the suspect, who investigators believe is sympathetic to the Islamic State.
It remains unclear how much progress had been made on the planned attack, or what the intended target was.
The main suspect is expected to be presented before an investigating judge in the coming days and will likely be under pre-trial detention, according to a police statement.
The offenses involved are punishable in Germany by up to 10 years’ imprisonment.