When Tunisian Sief Allah H entered the courtroom in the western German city of Dusseldorf this week, he was all smiles and asked the police officer standing next to him to respect social distancing as a measure to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
The humor of the 31-year-old man, who has been in jail since 2018, turned into a nightmare when the judge at Dusseldorf’s higher regional court sentenced him to 10 years in prison for planning a biological bomb attack with the deadly poison ricin.
The ISIS sympathizer had ordered castor seeds, explosives and metal ball bearings on the internet in order to build the toxic bomb.
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 said.
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.
Federal prosecutors said the couple had "for a long time identified with the aims and values of the foreign terrorist organization ISIS".
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.
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.
"He is certainly guilty, we do not deny that," they reportedly said.
Before travelling to Germany, Sief Allah H worked as a mailman in Tunisia.
He had tried to travel to Syria to fight alongside extremists. But when his plans failed, he thought about an alternative plan to carry out the biological attack.