According to authorities, a 32-year-old Iranian man has been apprehended in Germany after U.S. security personnel received a warning that he might be preparing a fatal chemical attack.
The man and another person, according to police and prosecutors, were held overnight in Castrop-Rauxel, a town northwest of Dortmund.
The individual is suspected of planning a severe attack inspired by Islamic extremism, according to a joint statement from the police and the prosecution.
He is also said to have sought out the toxic chemicals ricin and cyanide for the attack.
Specialists were observed removing evidence from the man’s house while wearing anti-contamination garments.
Later, Düsseldorf prosecutors claimed that a preliminary inspection of the property revealed no harmful materials.
It wasn’t immediately known how far along the attack preparations were or if the suspect had chosen a particular victim.
Herbert Reul, the state’s senior security official, was quoted by the German news agency dpa as saying that authorities had received “a severe tip that led police to intervene the same night.”
According to the tabloid newspaper Bild, a cooperating intelligence agency, provided the tip regarding the suspected scheme.
Prosecutors in Düsseldorf acknowledged that the information originated from American authorities but chose not to provide further details.
According to a German security officer who Dpa did not identify, there was no evidence that the suspect had operated on behalf of the Iranian government; instead, it appeared that he had supported a Sunni extremist organization.
Iran has a small percentage of Sunnis.
The top security official in Germany expressed gratitude to the investigators, including the police and experts from the nation’s disease control agency.
Interior Minister Nancy Faser said in a statement that “our security services take any information concerning Islamist terror threats very seriously and respond.”
She added that 21 Islamist assaults had been thwarted in Germany since the turn of the century.
Faeser emphasized the value of international collaboration in combating extremist threats and predicted that subsequent inquiries by Düsseldorf prosecutors would establish the validity of the suspicions that led to the police action.
A Tunisian man and his wife were detained by German police five years ago on suspicion of preparing to launch a ricin attack in support of the Islamic State organization.
They were later convicted guilty and given prison terms of 10 and 8 years, respectively.
An adult can be killed by ricin, a poison made from the seeds of castor oil plants, if they consume it, get injected with it, or breathe it in.