A 39-year-old American veteran has announced that he has sent poison letters to Donald Trump and FBI director Christopher Wray. Defence minister James Mattis and John Richardson, the commander of the US naval forces, also received suspicious mail from him.
The man, a former navy named William Clyde Allen III, sent the letters on 24 September. The letters contained ground beans from the castor oil plant. In each envelope was a note with the inscription “Jaak and the Raketboon broth powder”, a reference to the fairy tale of “Jaak and de Bonenstaak”.
The sender made it very easy for the authorities: on each envelope was his name and return address.
Allen confessed after his arrest that he had ordered the castor beans on the internet and that he had sent the letters “because he wanted to convey a message”. He did not explain exactly what that message meant.
The man is charged with threatening biological weapons and for sending threatening messages. If Allen is found guilty, he risks a lifelong prison sentence.
According to the FBI, each envelope tested positive for ricin in two separate laboratory tests, but the indictment against Allen does not state that there was effective ricin in the letters. The Pentagon announces that the two letters intercepted there contain only ground castor beans: they are harmless but activated the ricin alarm.
Ricin extracting from castor beans “is relatively simple and requires no technical expertise”, but is dangerous, it says in the FBI documents. A few micrograms of the poison are already deadly. Within 36 to 72 hours after exposure through touch, inhalation or injection, the victim gets flu-like symptoms, breathing problems and eventually a cardiac arrest. There is no antidote yet.
According to the authorities, it is not the first time that Allen is threatening the government. In 2015 he sent a letter to the CIA in which he threatened to assassinate then President Barack Obama. Last year he did a bomb threat at an air base in Texas.
Source: Reuters, AD