A man who was plotting to use deadly ricin to poison members of the public in terror attack has been detained by German police.
Authorities say they managed to thwart the atrocity, allegedly planned by a Tunisian man who created the toxin using castor bean seeds.
Sief Allah H, whose last name was not given in line with the country’s privacy laws, was taken into custody on Tuesday following a raid on his apartment in Cologne.
The 29-year-old suspect was formally arrested on Wednesday after a judge reviewed the evidence.
German authorities are now investigating how the suspect planned to use the toxin, but believe he was working on a “biological weapon”.
Markus Schmitt, prosecutors’ spokesperson, said: “We don’t know how, or how widely, the ricin was to have been distributed.”
Sief Allah H is accused of procuring material online in mid-May, prosecutors said.
He succeeded in creating the toxin this month and investigators found it during the apartment search.
Prosecutors declined to say how much ricin the suspect had produced.
The seeds of the castor bean plant are naturally poisonous and can be used to create ricin, which kills the body’s cells by preventing them from creating protein.
If eaten, injected or inhaled, just a few milligrams are enough to kill an adult. Early symptoms include chest pain, breathing difficulties and coughing.
The suspect is not known to have been a member of a terrorist organisation but did have contacts with Islamic extremists, Mr Schmitt said.
“He had contacts with people in the jihadist spectrum,” Mr Schmitt said, but would not elaborate on whether those contacts were online, in person or both.
He also would not comment on a report in the top-selling Bild newspaper that US intelligence tipped off German investigators after they detected the suspect’s online activity buying the seeds to make ricin.
Bild also reported that the suspect bought bomb-making materials and chemicals used in the production of ricin.
It said the suspect lived in the Chorweiler neighbourhood of Cologne with his wife, a convert to Islam, and four children.
He supposedly used instructions to make a ricin bomb that had been posted online by the extremist Islamic State group.
Sief Allah H’s wife was initially taken into custody but was later released, prosecutors said.