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Sunday, February 5, 2023

The June 2018 Cologne Ricin Plot: A New Threshold in Jihadi Bio Terror

In June 2018, German security services uncovered an alleged terrorist plot involving ricin by a Tunisian extremist living in Cologne suspected of being inspired by and in touch with the Islamic State. It was the first time a jihadi terrorist in the West has successfully produced the toxic biological agent. The case illustrates the existing threat of bioterrorism in Europe. It also shows the importance of electronic surveillance to uncover plots by radicalized individuals using the internet to obtain deadly material.

On June 12, 2018, heavily armed German special forces police with gas masks raided a residential building in the city of Cologne (North Rhine-Westphalia) in Western Germany. A Tunisian national named Sief Allah H., who lived at the premises, was arrested. His wife, a German convert to Islam named Yasmin H., was also taken into police custody and was later accused of helping her husband in a terrorist plot. Police investigators and bio-chemical experts of the Robert Koch Institute, wearing full protective gear, then entered the residential block and searched several apartments. They were looking for the poison ricin.

Terrorist suspect Sief Allah H. had been monitored by German security services for a number of weeks prior to his arrest. Investigators discovered Sief Allah H. had ordered suspicious material and believed he was working to build an explosive device containing the deadly substance ricin. German intelligence had learned that Sief Allah H. had bought various materials via the internet, including more than a thousand castor beans and an electronic coffee grinder. During the police raid, a powdery substance was found, which subsequently tested positive for ricin. Holger Münch, head of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), stated shortly after the raid, “There were pretty specific preparations for such a crime, using, if you want, a bio-bomb. This is a unique case, at least for Germany.”

Read more at the CTC Sentinel

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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