SEK mission in North Rhine-Westphalia: Two men who may have planned a terrorist attack with cyanide and ricin were arrested in Castrop-Rauxel. The US secret service FBI had led the investigators on the trail of the suspected chemical bombers. Now the apartment and two garages of a suspect have been searched.

The younger of the two brothers arrested for allegedly planning a poison attack was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2019 for attempted murder, among other things. Even at the time of his arrest on Sunday night in the Ruhr area, he was not yet free: he was still being held in a rehabilitation center in Hagen, but was allowed to spend the night with family members due to a relaxation at the weekend. This was announced by a spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office in Dortmund on Monday. The “Westfalen-Blatt” had previously reported on it.

According to the public prosecutor’s office, the 25-year-old threw a large branch from a bridge onto Autobahn 45 at night in July 2018. He hit a car with it, the driver was injured by glass splinters. In fact he was drunk. In January 2019, he was sentenced to imprisonment by the Dortmund Regional Court for attempted murder in combination with dangerous bodily harm and intentional dangerous interference with road traffic.

In connection with the anti-terrorist operation in Castrop-Rauxel, emergency services are currently searching two garages assigned to the 32-year-old suspect. This was announced by the public prosecutor’s office in Düsseldorf on Monday morning. The television station Welt had previously reported. The investigators had previously searched the home of the Iranian national.

The man is suspected of having obtained the toxins cyanide and ricin for the crime, said the Düsseldorf public prosecutor, the Recklinghausen police and the Münster police early on Sunday morning. According to prosecutors, no toxins were found during the investigation.

The 32-year-old was reportedly taken into custody together with his brother. As reported by the “Bild” newspaper, the decisive clue came from the US secret service, the FBI. The attack plans are said to have been well advanced. It was initially unclear whether there was a specific goal. The investigation is proceeding swiftly.

As reported by “Bild”, arrest warrants were issued for both men on Sunday evening. The Düsseldorf Attorney General had previously requested this. The brothers are accused, among other things, of wanting to obtain toxins for an Islamist-motivated attack.

According to information from the “Bild” newspaper, the suspect had already wanted to strike on New Year’s Eve. But apparently he didn’t have enough material for his attack plan. The FBI has now warned that this has changed and it is “5 to 12”. Access was therefore urgent.

The North Rhine-Westphalian Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) also confirms this: “We had a serious tip that prompted the police to intervene that night. The authorities are now investigating at full speed.”

According to a report by “Bild”, employees from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) were also on site as consultants because of the biological and chemical dangers for the emergency services. Several employees of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and a defuse commando were also deployed. The BKA did not want to comment on the operation and referred to the Attorney General’s Office.

According to the RKI, the highly toxic substance is listed under “biological weapons” in the war weapons list. Cyanide is also highly toxic, even the smallest amounts are fatal to humans.

The investigators struck around midnight. The scene was cordoned off over a wide area. Police, fire brigade and rescue workers were on site with a large contingent. Many emergency services wore protective suits. Evidence was brought in blue barrels to a decontamination point set up by the fire department, a dpa reporter reported.

“The accused is suspected of having prepared a serious act of violence that is dangerous to the state,” said the investigators. “The search serves to find the corresponding toxins and other evidence.” The 32-year-old and the second man taken into custody were led across the street into an emergency vehicle in underwear and a T-shirt or with a makeshift jacket thrown on, eyewitnesses reported. Neither of them resisted. According to a WDR report, the two men are said to be brothers.

“Evidence was secured and is being evaluated,” wrote the investigative authorities. It has not yet been decided whether the 32-year-old will be brought before a magistrate. The procedure is being conducted by the North Rhine-Westphalia Central Office for the Prosecution of Terrorism at the Düsseldorf Public Prosecutor’s Office.

According to information from “Bild”, the Federal Criminal Police Office has been investigating the Iranian for several days. A “friend of the secret service” is said to have warned the German security authorities about the danger of an attack with a chemical bomb.

Four years ago, investigations in Cologne showed how dangerous ricin is: In a 15-storey building in the high-rise district of Chorweiler, a Tunisian and his German wife produced the chemical and set off test explosions. A foreign secret service became suspicious about online purchases of large quantities of castor seeds and gave a tip. Both were sentenced to long prison terms. An expert report showed that, purely arithmetically, 13,500 people could have died from the amount of poison. With the planned spread by a cluster bomb spiked with steel balls, it would have killed around 200 people.