Tunisian handed 10 years for ricin bomb plot in Germany

Defendant Sief Allah H. holds a folder in front of his face at the start of his trial on June 7, 2019 at a court in Duesseldorf, western Germany. (AFP)
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Updated 27 March 2020

Tunisian handed 10 years for ricin bomb plot in Germany

  • Daesh sympathizer Sief Allah H., 31, had ordered castor seeds, explosives and metal ball bearings on the Internet in order to build a toxic bomb
  • Sief Allah H. and wife caught after a tip-off from the US Central Intelligence Agency, which had noticed the large online purchase of castor seeds

BERLIN: A German court sentenced a 31-year-old Tunisian to 10 years in prison Thursday for planning a biological bomb attack with the deadly poison ricin.

Daesh sympathizer Sief Allah H., 31, had ordered castor seeds, explosives and metal ball bearings on the Internet in order to build the toxic bomb, a spokesman for the higher regional court in Duesseldorf said.

He was found guilty of producing a biological weapon and of planning a serious act of violent subversion.

His German wife Yasmin, 43, stands accused of helping him build the bomb but she is now being tried separately after the court accused her defense lawyers of attempting to spin out the case with a 140-page statement on Thursday.

Her trial will resume on April 1.

The couple “wanted to create a climate of fear and uncertainty among the German population,” judge Jan van Lessen was quoted by DPA as saying on Thursday.

He added that they had produced enough ricin to potentially kill up to 13,500 people.

The couple have been on trial since June last year following their arrest in 2018 by an anti-terrorist squad that found 84 milligrammes of the toxin in their Cologne apartment.

The arrests likely prevented what would have been Germany’s first biological attack, said Holger Muench, head of the BKA Federal Criminal Police Office, at the time.

Federal prosecutors said the couple had “for a long time identified with the aims and values of the foreign terrorist organization Daesh.”

They decided in 2017 to detonate an explosive in a large crowd, “to kill and wound the largest possible number of people,” prosecutors said ahead of the trial.

Produced by processing castor beans, ricin is lethal in minute doses if swallowed, inhaled or injected and 6,000 times more potent than cyanide, with no known antidote.

The pair had allegedly researched various forms of explosives before deciding on the deadly poison.

They ordered 3,300 castor beans over the Internet and successfully made a small amount of ricin.

They also bought a hamster to test the potency of the poison.

The couple were caught after a tip-off from the US Central Intelligence Agency, which had noticed the large online purchase of castor seeds, according to German media reports.

Sief Allah H. admitted to building the bomb but denied that he had planned an attack on German soil.

His defense lawyers had asked for a sentence of eight years.

“He is certainly guilty, we do not deny that,” they reportedly said.


Malaysia palace staff affected by COVID-19

The city center of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is seen empty Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (AP)
Updated 28 March 2020

Malaysia palace staff affected by COVID-19

  • Since early March, Queen Tunku Azizah — a well-known epicure — has been cooking and packing meals for frontline healthcare workers in several hospitals in Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s king and queen went into self-imposed quarantine in their palace on Thursday after nine of their palace staff tested positive for the coronavirus disease COVID-19.
Queen Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah took to Instagram to ask people to pray for her and King Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.
“Please pray for us!” the queen wrote. “There are only me and my family along with three other staff in the palace. No one is allowed to leave the room, and no visitors are allowed in. Ya Allah, please save Malaysia!”
The queen said she had been “in close contact” with all nine infected staff members, although both monarchs had earlier tested negative for COVID-19.
It is unclear how the nine staff members caught the virus, but the queen said on Instagram that all but three of the palace staff would immediately be quarantined in a hotel, where they will go through the procedures set by the Health Department.
“Each one will have to go through the disinfection process before they board the bus. Their belongings will also go through the disinfection process,” the queen said.

She added that all of them would have to change into new clothes provided by the Health Department.
She added that the staff would be separated into three groups — those who had tested negative, those who are awaiting their test results, and those who “already have symptoms” — who would travel from the palace on three separate buses.
Since early March, Queen Tunku Azizah — a well-known epicure — has been cooking and packing meals for frontline healthcare workers in several hospitals in Kuala Lumpur.
The popular 59-year-old queen is known for her frankness and people-centric approach on social media. She has also been sharing recipes and photos of local dishes and cakes with the public.
“Today’s dishes that will be sent to the Sungai Buloh Hospital and the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre are chicken curry with tempoyak (fermented durian), vegetable stir-fry and salted egg”, she posted on Tuesday.
The Malaysian healthcare system is under increasing pressure as the number of COVID-19 cases rises. As of 5 p.m. on Friday, Malaysia has confirmed a total of 2,161 cases and 26 deaths.
The government declared 11 districts as “red zones” — areas with high risk of infection — on Friday, and implemented a full lockdown in parts of Johor state.