A man appeared in court today after he was caught in an FBI sting allegedly buying a consignment of deadly ricin chemical that was sent to him hidden inside a toy car.
Mohammed Ammer Ali from Liverpool is accused of going to the darkest recesses of the internet and using the online currency bitcoin in an attempt to buy 500mg of the chemical that would have had the potential to kill hundreds of people, Westminster magistrates’ court was told.
The 31-year-old allegedly paid the equivalent of $500 (£325) to the FBI and received five phials of harmless white powder through the post.
Police said they had not uncovered any threat or plan for an imminent attack at home or abroad following the joint operation by officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, Merseyside police and the US authorities.
Officers – some wearing masks and boiler suits – searched five properties including homes and businesses in Liverpool on 11 February, and seized a number of items, according to a police spokesman. Ricin is said to be hundreds of times more deadly than cyanide.
Mr Ali, wearing a dark sweater and trousers, sat in the dock at Westminster magistrates’ court for a three-minute hearing and spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth.
Mr Ali, a father of two, is accused of attempting to have a chemical weapon in his possession between 1o January and 12 February, contrary to the Criminal Attempts Act 1981 and the Chemical Weapons Act 1996.
He will stand trial at the Old Bailey, with his next hearing scheduled for 13 March.
In a separate case, a boy and girl, both aged 16, were arrested by officers in Greater Manchester yesterday on suspicion of being concerned in preparing terrorist acts.
In a third unlinked inquiry, a 29-year-old man was arrested in Stoke-on-Trent in connection with suspected online posts referring to Isis.