Tunisian held in Germany ‘sought to build biological weapon’

Police officers, including special forces wearing protective suits walk out of a building on late June 12, 2018 in Cologne, where German police arrested a Tunisian man after discovering “toxic substances” at his flat. (AFP)
Updated 14 June 2018
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Tunisian held in Germany ‘sought to build biological weapon’

  • A Tunisian man arrested in Germany is suspected of trying to build a biological weapon using the deadly poison ricin.
  • The 29-year-old, identified as Sief Allah H, was detained after police stormed his flat in Cologne late Tuesday, where they found ricin.

FRANKFURT AM MAIN: A Tunisian man arrested in Germany is suspected of trying to build a biological weapon using the deadly poison ricin, prosecutors said Thursday, stressing however there was no indication of any “concrete attack plans.”
The 29-year-old, identified as Sief Allah H, was detained after police stormed his flat in Cologne late Tuesday, where they found unknown “toxic substances” that turned out to be ricin.
“He is strongly suspected of intentionally manufacturing biological weapons,” federal prosecutors said in a statement.
The suspect has been charged with violating German law on the possession of weapons of war, and “preparing a serious act of violence against the state.”
But prosecutors cautioned that it remained unclear whether he was planning to use ricin to carry out an extremist attack in Germany.
“There are no indications that the accused belongs to a terrorist organization, nor of any concrete attack plans at a certain time or place,” they said.
According to German media, the police raid came after German intelligence services were tipped off by foreign authorities who had grown suspicious of the suspect’s online purchases.
Prosecutors said Sief Allah H. started buying the necessary equipment and ingredients to make ricin in mid-May — including an online purchase of “a thousand castor seeds and an electric coffee grinder.”
He succeeded in manufacturing the toxin earlier this month. The dangerous substance has been secured by the authorities, they added.
Ricin — a poison that is produced by processing castor beans — has no known antidote and is one of the world’s most lethal toxins.
It is 6,000 times more powerful than cyanide.
German news weekly Der Spiegel reported that Sief Allah H. was thought to have been following instructions disseminated by Daesh on how to build a bomb containing ricin.
The case comes less than a month after French authorities said they had foiled a terror attack possibly involving the use of ricin. Two brothers of Egyptian origin were arrested.
Germany remains on high alert for extremist attacks after several assaults claimed by Daesh in the country.
In the worst such attack, Tunisian asylum seeker Anis Amri rammed a truck into crowds at a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016, killing 12.


Spanish emergency services working to rescue toddler trapped in well

Updated 16 January 2019
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Spanish emergency services working to rescue toddler trapped in well

  • Among debris pulled out of the well, rescuers found hair, which DNA tests confirmed belonged to the child
  • Emergency services are using cameras to try to locate the child but said access was difficult, with soil partially blocking the well

TOTALAN, Spain: Spanish emergency services were working to rescue a toddler trapped in a well since Sunday.
The two-year-old boy was seen falling into the well as his family walked through a private estate in Totalan, Malaga, in southern Spain, his father Jose told Spanish media.
Among debris pulled out of the well, rescuers found hair, which DNA tests confirmed belonged to the child. No signs of life have been detected.
The town’s residents turned out on Wednesday for a vigil to support the family, many holding homemade placards reading “All of Spain is with you” and “We are sending you our strength.” One man held a sign simply reading “Julen,” the name of the toddler.
Emergency services are using cameras to try to locate the child but said access was difficult, with soil partially blocking the well, which is just 25 cm (10 inches) wide and 100 meters (328 feet) deep.
“We are not only giving voice for all the residents of Totalan but also for the rest of the country because we have all had Julen in our minds since last Sunday,” resident Patricia Calderon told reporters.
Spanish police said members of a Swedish firm which helped locate 33 Chilean miners rescued after 69 days underground more than seven years ago had arrived on Tuesday to help in the rescue operation.
Alternative routes were being studied and officials said they were working to dig a tunnel next to the well.