BERLIN (AP) — A 32-year-old Iranian man has been detained in Germany on suspicion of planning an attack with a deadly chemical, officials said Sunday.
The man and another person were detained overnight in the town of Castrop-Rauxel, northwest of Dortmund, police and prosecutors said.
The man is suspected of planning a serious attack motivated by Islamic extremism for which he allegedly sought to obtain the highly toxic substances cyanide and ricin, they said in a joint statement.
Experts in anti-pollution suits were seen carrying evidence out of the man’s home.
A spokesman for Düsseldorf prosecutors later said an initial search of the premises found no toxic substances, German news agency dpa reported.
It was not immediately clear how the attack plan progressed and whether the suspect chose a specific target.
North Rhine-Westphalia’s top security official, Herbert Reul, was quoted by the Dpa as saying authorities had received “a serious lead which led to police intervention that night”.
The tabloid Bild reported that information about the alleged plot came from a joint intelligence agency.
Citing an unidentified German security official, the Dpa said there was no indication the suspect was acting on behalf of the Iranian government, but rather that he allegedly supported a Sunni extremist group. Sunnis are Iran’s religious minority.
Germany’s top security official thanked police officers involved in the raid and experts from the country’s disease control agency.
“Our security services take any information about the Islamic terrorist threat very seriously and act on it,” Interior Minister Nancy Fasser said in a statement, adding that Germany has prevented 21 Islamic attacks since the beginning of the century .
Faeser pointed to the importance of international cooperation in combating the extremist threat and said further investigations by Düsseldorf prosecutors would show whether it was necessary to raise suspicions about police action.
Five years ago, German police arrested a Tunisian man and his wife on suspicion of planning a ricin attack in the name of the Islamic State group.they were later found guilty They were sentenced to 10 and 8 years in prison, respectively.
Even small amounts of ricin, produced from castor seeds, can kill an adult human if eaten, injected or inhaled.