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Ricin plotters bought hamster to test weapon

July 24, 2018

German prosecutors have arrested the wife of a Tunisian man detained last month over a biological attack plot. The couple allegedly bought a hamster to test a chemical substance ahead of a planned terrorist attack.

German elite SEK police commandos at the scene of the 18-story apartment block in Cologne from where a Tunisian man was arrested.
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Young

The wife of a Tunisian man who was detained last month over a ricin-based biological weapon plot was also arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of being an accomplice. German federal prosecutors said the 43-year-old German woman, named only as Yasmin H, was suspected of helping prepare an act of violence and helping produce biological weapons.

Her husband, Sief Allah H. was arrested on June 12 for "planning a serious act of violent subversion."

Read more: Ricin — an easy-to-obtain bio-weapon from the internet    

Hamster conspirator

Prosecutors allege that Yasmin H, reportedly a convert to Islam, allowed her husband to use her online accounts to order ingredients to make ricin. The couple allegedly then bought a hamster to test the effectiveness of the toxin.

On Tuesday, prosecutors said Yasmin H. had organized also a trip to Poland for her husband in late 2017 to buy explosive materials.

Read moreGerman police carry out more raids in Cologne after charging man with making biological weapon

Ricin is found in the seeds of the castor oil plant
Ricin is found in the seeds of the castor oil plantImage: picture-alliance/blickwinkel/McPhoto

Islamist connection

Sief Allah H. was thought to have followed instructions on making a ricin bomb disseminated online by Islamic State (IS). Prosecutors said that — although he started buying the equipment and ingredients to make ricin in mid-May, including thousands of "castor seeds and an electric coffee grinder" — they still lacked specific details of an attack plan.

Biological weapon

According to federal prosecutors, about 3,150 castor bean seeds — more than three times the number initially suspected — and 84.3 milligrams of ricin were found in the suspect's apartment.

Ricin is 6,000 times more potent than cyanide and is lethal in minute doses if swallowed, inhaled or injected. It has no known antidote.

kw/aw (AP, AFP)

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Editor's note: DW follows the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and obliges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases.

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