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TERRORISM

Man handed 10 year jail term for biological bomb plot in Germany

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.

Man handed 10 year jail term for biological bomb plot in Germany
Sief Allah H. on trial in Cologne in June 2019. Photo: DPA

Islamic State sympathiser 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 Düsseldorf 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 defence lawyers of attempting to spin out the case with a 140-page statement on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Cologne couple in court over 'biological bomb plot'

Her trial will resume on April 1st.

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 Münch, 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 organisation Islamic State”.

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.

READ ALSO: Tunisian man held in Cologne 'sought to build biological weapon'

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 defence lawyers had asked for a sentence of eight years.

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

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TERRORISM

Anti-Semitism ‘massive problem’ in Germany, says Jewish leader on terror attack anniversary

On the second anniversary of a far-right terror attack at a German synagogue, the German Jewish Council has warned that the government needs to make more efforts to stop the spread of anti-Semitism online.

Anti-Semitism 'massive problem' in Germany, says Jewish leader on terror attack anniversary
A star of David on the roof of the Halle synagogue. Photo: dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

Two years after a terrorist attack in the east German town of Halle that left two people dead, Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews, said that more needed to be done in the fight against anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism.

“The spread and incitement of hate, for example in the form of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories via social media, is a massive problem,” Schuster told DPA.

On October 9th 2019, a heavily armed right-wing extremist called Stephan Balliet tried to enter the Halle city synagogue on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

When he failed to do so, he shot a 40-year-old passerby. He later killed a 20-year-old man at a kebab shop. While trying to escape, the 28-year-old injured several people before he was caught by the police.

The city of Halle is commemorating the event on Saturday, with wreaths to be laid at the scene of the crime. Reiner Haseloff, state leader of Saxony-Anhalt, is expected to attend.

Balliet was sentenced to life in prison in 2020 by the Naumburg Higher Regional Court. His sentence will be followed by preventive detention.

Funs for synagogue security

While praising the German government for introducing a law that makes social media companies responsible for hateful content posted on their sites, Schuster said that the legislation needed to be extended to messenger services such as Telegram.

“We must do everything we can to ensure that the internet is not a lawless space,” he said.

According to Schuster, the German government reacted quickly after the Halle attack by providing money to improve security at Jewish institutions.

This was an important step, he said. “However, there is still much to be done at the political and social level to combat growing anti-Semitism.”

SEE ALSO: Four held over foiled ‘Islamist’ attack on German synagogue

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