Germany arrests Iranian brothers suspected of involvement in cyanide and ricin terror attack

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New investigation after anti-terror operation
Special police forces are conducting searches for targets linked to the Iranian national on January 9, 2023, a day after the 32-year-old and his brother were arrested on suspicion of planning a poison attack. Raussel, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

Bernd Thiessen/Image Alliance/Getty

Berlin German anti-terrorist police raided an apartment in the west of the country over the weekend and arrested an Iranian man and his brother, who are accused of planning an attack with Islamic extremism. A 32-year-old man, who was the main target of the investigation, was suspected of preparing an attack using cyanide and ricin, according to the Dusseldorf prosecutor’s office.

The suspects were arrested on Sunday. The status of the plan, whether there was a specific target or whether the men received one of the deadly substances, remained unclear Monday. According to the prosecutor’s office, there are no indications that Iranian government agencies were involved in the alleged plot.

According to the Robert Koch Institute, the German government’s national agency for health and disease control, ricin is classified as a “biological weapon” of warfare. Cyanide is also highly toxic; even the smallest amount can be fatal to humans.

Officials said Monday that while searching multiple locations as part of the investigation, they found a package with unknown contents in the garage and had to remove it for inspection. Some nearby houses were evacuated as a precaution.

Officers raided the home in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia at around midnight on Saturday night. A number of police, firefighters and rescue workers arrived, many wearing bio-chemical protective suits.

A major police operation in Castrop-Roussel
Items found during a search in connection with an anti-terrorism investigation are examined at the premises of the fire department in Castro-Raxel, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, January 8, 2023.

Christoph Reichwein/Image Alliance/Getty

The evidence was placed in sealed blue barrels and taken to a decontamination station set up by the local fire department.

The Federal Criminal Police Office in Germany has been investigating the Iranians for several days, the Dusseldorf prosecutor’s office said. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned German authorities about the threat of a chemical attack.

During the search of the 32-year-old man’s apartment, cyanide and ricin were not found, the Prosecutor General’s Office reported.

Task force members are also searching two garages rented by one of the brothers, officials said. During the investigation, it was discovered that the main suspect had two garages in the yard in Castro Raxel, according to the Attorney General’s Office, and members of the fire department’s analytical task force were mobilized to ensure safe handling of any hazardous material.

After Operation Castrop-Raxel, the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Herbert Raul, called on German politicians to make better use of intelligence tools, such as Internet surveillance capabilities, to detect and disrupt these plots more quickly.

Germany has strict data protection and surveillance laws that largely prohibit spying on citizens’ online activities or tracking their movements by national agencies, although the country is quick to respond to intelligence gathered. abroad.

“The important thing is to know early on who is planning something,” Reul said on the German public broadcaster’s morning show. He said that he could not understand why Germany was indifferent to the possibilities offered by modern surveillance.

“We are very cautious about this in Germany,” he said, adding that fortunately, international cooperation between security agencies worked well enough to foil the alleged plot and apprehend the accused.

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