Germany: Man suspected of preparing attack after police find toxic substance in home in Cologne

German police are investigating a 29-year-old man after storming his apartment in the western city of Cologne. Some German outlets report that they found a highly toxic substance.

German public prosecutors are investigating a 29-year-old man on suspicion of preparing a "serious act of violent subversion" after police found an "unknown substance" during a raid of his apartment late on Tuesday.

"We need to wait for the forensic results," a spokesman said, adding that they had not ruled out terrorism.

Daily newspaper Express and local daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger reported that police had found ricin, a substance that can be highly toxic in small amounts. Authorities have not confirmed the reports.

Police have said they arrested the suspect, a Tunisian citizen, along with his wife in the northern neighborhood of Chorweiler in Cologne, a city in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia. German news agency dpa reported that the wife is not suspected of any involvement.

Elite SEK police commandos and specialized chemical units from the police and fire departments were at the scene of the 18-story apartment block Chorweiler late on Tuesday. A mobile laboratory was set up in the entrance area of the apartment to analyze the substance.


Ready to cope with extreme situations

The GSG9, which stands for Grenzschutzgruppe 9 (Border Protection Group 9), was set up in 1972 after regular German police failed to rescue Israeli hostages kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympics. Its formation was controversial, with some politicians in Germany feeling the group was reminiscent of the notorious Nazi SS.


Establishing a top reputation

The GSG9's very first mission, called "Operation Fire Magic," established its high reputation. After Palestinian terrorists hijacked a Lufthansa plane in 1977, the GSG 9 managed to rescue passengers in a seven-minute operation in Mogadishu. A GSG 9 member and a flight attendant were injured, while three of four hijackers were killed. Sadly, the pilot was killed before the operation took place.


Reward for a mission accomplished

Ulrich Wegener, who was a founding member of GSG 9, received an Order of Merit from the German government after the successful mission. Wegener, who became known as the "Hero of Mogadishu," died on December 28, 2017, at the age of 88. He was always uncomfortable with his popular title, saying recently: "We did the work together."


Deployed at sea ...

The GSG 9 goes into action in hostage situations, in cases of terrorism and to undertake bomb disposal. But it is also deployed to secure locations, as here ahead of the 2007 G8 summit in the northern resort town of Heiligendamm.


... and on land

Most of the GSG 9's missions are confidential, but it is said to have participated in more than 1,900 operations since being founded. It is currently based in the western town of Sankt Augustin, near Germany's former capital, Bonn.


Always in training

The GSG 9 members undergo rigorous training for all eventualities. Here, they practice dealing with an attack by armed terrorists on a railway station. Plans are now underway to expand the unit by a third and give it another headquarters in the capital, Berlin. Although the number of members is kept a secret, media currently put it at around 400.

amp, cw/sms (dpa, AFP)

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