German authorities foil biological terrorist attack in Cologne
German authorities arrested Sief Allah H, a 29-year-old Tunisian national, on Wednesday on suspicion that he manufactured and stored Ricin in his Cologne apartment, The Associated Press reports.
Authorities say that in May of this year Sief purchased a large quantity of castor bean seeds, which are the key component in Ricin. When authorities raided his apartment, they discovered that he had already manufactured some of the poison.
Deutsche Welle, a German news outlet, reports that Sief “came to Germany in 2016 and had terrorist sympathies,” however it is not clear whether Sief has sworn an allegiance to any specific group.
Sief is currently charged with “suspicion of violating the War Weapons Control Act and preparing a serious act of violence against the state.”
Ricin is a by-product of processed castor beans and is commonly left over during the production of castor oil. When a person is exposed to Ricin, the toxin enters the victim’s cells, preventing “the cells from making the proteins they need.” Ricin can enter the body through ingestion, inhalation, or via skin absorption.
Weaponized Ricin is most commonly aerosolized and affects the victim’s cardiovascular system. When exposed to Ricin, the victim will begin to experience “respiratory distress, fever, cough, nausea, and tightness in the chest.” As the toxin spreads throughout the victim’s body, he or she may begin to sweat heavily and develop “pulmonary edema, low blood pressure and respiratory failure,” which can lead to death.
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