London, Jan. 7 (Reuters): British anti-terrorist police said today they had found a small quantity of ricin, one of the world’s deadliest toxins, in London raids that led to the arrest of seven north Africans.
Ricin — which terrorism experts linked to al Qaida — was notoriously used to assassinate Bulgarian exile Georgi Markov in London in 1978 with a poison-tipped umbrella.
There is no known antidote to the poison, which experts say is easy to make and stockpile. A small dose can be lethal and causes flu-like symptoms for a few days before death.
“This is all about the psychology of fear, planting terror in people’s minds,” Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at Scotland’s St Andrews University, said.
Ranstorp said he had seen instructions on how to create ricin in literature from al Qaida, blamed for the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. Police would not make any link to al Qaida, saying only that they had arrested six north African men and a woman, who was later released, under the Terrorism Act.
The arrests were made during raids in north London on Sunday, the latest in a line of clampdowns in Britain.