On September 11, 1978, while Bulgarian journalist Georgi Markov was crossing the Waterloo Bridge he felt a sting in his thigh after a man hit him with an umbrella. The man apologized and Markov went to work. Markov had a fever and died four days later. He was injected by the lethal ricin toxin, which scientists have not come up with an antidote or vaccine yet.
Today terrorist groups are obsessed with attacking Europe biologically via ricin, which has an average lethal dose in humans of 0.2 milligrams (1/5,000th).
Dr. Stephen Thornton, head of toxins unit at the University of Kansas, said ricin whether inhaled or injected into the body becomes part of metabolism. Ricin is classified by the European Union as a dangerous biological weapon.
According to him, ricin stops the formation of proteins needed for cells to live. It causes the death of cells.
Leonard Cole, a terror medicine expert with Rutgers University, told CNN that ricin is a byproduct of the caster beans. Britain made some research on ricin during World War II.
The German police foiled a terrorist attack by ricin in Cologne and detained a Tunisian young man named Sief Allah H. The seized ricin could produce around 250-1,000 doses.
In May, the French police foiled a similar attack and arrested a student of Egyptian origin with ricin. He was detained for preparing a terrorist attack.
However, the early attempts to use ricin in deadly attacks date back to January 2003. A terrorist cell of nine men of Moroccan origin sought to produce ricin in their apartment in a London suburb.
In 2003, the French police also found ricin packed inside lockers at the Gare de Lyon.
The US security authorities detained a 45-year-old Israeli woman — Waheba Issa Dais — living in the US on charges of coaching potential Islamic State attackers on how to produce ricin.
She was arrested in the city of Cudahy last week. Dais, a legal US resident since 1992, used a number of social media accounts, including accounts hijacked from others, to promote the Islamic State group and facilitate recruitment, according to an indictment.
She encouraged one person, apparently a law enforcement informant, on how to make the poison ricin and suggested the individual introduce the ricin to a government post of water reservoirs.
A computer of one of ISIS militants was found in Syria in 2014 with lessons for making toxins and explosives. The computer belonged to a Tunisian student who studied chemistry and physics before joining ISIS.
Europol warned this week that the terror threat remains high in the European Union.