Full Hazmat Gear

On Saturday evening, January 7th, German police raided a residence in the town of Castrop-Rauxel, in western Germany. This was no ordinary call; law enforcement responded wearing full chemical protective gear because their target was accused of imminently preparing to launch a chemical attack. Officials ended up detaining a 32-year-old Iranian man shortly before midnight. He is suspected of plotting a terroristic attack motivated by Islamic extremism. The man was thought to have been trying to obtain cyanide and ricin, both extremely hazardous poisons capable of being fashioned into bioweapons capable of causing widespread terror.

German SEK (Spezialeinsatzkommando) police special forces were, according to reports in The Guardian, first on the scene arriving onsite in a fire truck to hide their identity and purpose. A decontamination unit from Germany’s disease control and prevention agency was also on site, in addition to a detonation unit.

A second man, believed to be the subject’s brother, was also taken into custody. Police report that this man is known to have ties to terrorist organizations but did not specify whether he was directly involved in the current plot. The pair have reportedly been in the country since 2015.

Pure ricin is a highly toxic substance that can be lethal in small amounts if ingested, injected, or inhaled. Two milligrams are enough to kill the average person, and there is no antidote. The best that can be done for victims is to control their symptoms. Cyanide gas is a chemical asphyxiant and has been historically used as an effective chemical warfare agent, first used during World War I.