Techie bought enough ricin to kill 1,400 people, UK court told

 A software engineer, thought to be of Pakistani origin, tried to buy online enough ricin to kill up to 1,400 people from an undercover FBI agent, a UK court was told on Tuesday.

PTI| Last Updated: Jul 21, 2015, 20:53 PM IST

London: A software engineer, thought to be of Pakistani origin, tried to buy online enough ricin to kill up to 1,400 people from an undercover FBI agent, a UK court was told on Tuesday.

Mohammed Ammer Ali, 31, of Liverpool, then tried to find a rabbit or other "pocket-sized pet" to test it on, the Old Bailey heard.

He tried to purchase a lethal dose of the toxin online, but was caught by an undercover FBI agent posing as a seller, prosecutors said.

Ali, a father of two, denies a charge of attempting to possess a chemical weapon, arguing that he was trying to buy poison for 'peaceful purpose'.

In encrypted chats, Ali and the US agent discussed the price of a lethal dose and repeat purchases, jurors were told.

Prosecutor Sally Howes said the FBI agent arranged for a harmless powder hidden inside a toy car to be sent to Ali's home, the BBC reported.

Ali's wife, who is originally from Pakistan, is said to have accepted the delivery on February 10 before officers arrested him the following morning during raids of five properties in Liverpool ? including his home, former home and a local IT firm.

A police raid found a computer used to access the "dark web" and a mobile phone which had been used to search for "homemade poison" and "what poison is easily concealed?".

Records also showed he had made a payment using online currency Bitcoin days before the delivery.

In one exchange with the undercover agent, Ali was told he could test the ricin on a rodent, the court heard.

Howes told jurors that Ali had admitted to contacting the undercover agent and ordering the "ricin".

In his defence, she said, he is likely to claim he wanted to experiment with and understand the workings of the "dark web" and to see if he could buy ricin out of curiosity.

Ali has claimed that he wanted to posses the poison for "peaceful purposes".

Ricin poisoning can kill its victims within three to five days after they suffer multiple organ failure.

"Expert scientific opinion is that, if administered or inhaled, that quantity of ricin would be a lethal dose sufficient to kill between 700 and 1,400 people," Howes told the court.

Police have found no evidence that Ali has any link with terrorist activities or organisations, the report said.