Monday, October 12, 2015

computer geek who tried to buy enough ricin to kill 1,400 people from undercover FBI agent on hidden 'Dark Web' is jailed for eight years

  • Mohammed Ali, ordered five vials of poison stashed in a toy Lamborghini
  • Father of two had package sent to home he shared with wife and children
  • IT worker didn't know the dealer was an FBI agent who tipped off UK 
  • Judge jailed him for eight years to 'deter' others buying chemical weapons 
Mugshot: Mohammed Ali, 31, from Liverpool, who was jailed for eight years today, had been 'inspired by Breaking Bad' and ordered five vials of the deadly poison - enough to murder 1,400 people
Mugshot: Mohammed Ali, 31, from Liverpool, who was jailed for eight years today, had been 'inspired by Breaking Bad' and ordered five vials of the deadly poison - enough to murder 1,400 people
An IT geek 'inspired by Breaking Bad' was jailed for eight years today for trying to buy ricin from the Dark Web smuggled in to Britain in a toy Lamborghini.

Mohammed Ali, 31, from Liverpool, bought five vials of the deadly poison - enough to murder 1,400 people.

Ali ordered the black market ricin to be sent to his home unaware that the dealer was an FBI agent who had alerted British authorities.

The married father of two had been a Breaking Bad fanatic and said the show had inspired him to hunt the dark web for weapons and drugs before plumping for ricin.

He had planned to test the poison on animals like rabbits he planned to take in from shelters and wrote in a diary 'get pet to murder'.

Sentencing Ali to eight years at the Old Bailey today, Mr Justice Saunders told him: 'It seems to me that this is the sort of case where a deterrent sentence has to be passed.

'Everyone needs to know that the possession of a chemical weapon is extremely serious and long prison sentences will follow.'

Ali, who was diagnosed with mild Asperger's or autistic traits, stood impassively in the dock as the judge told him that possession of a chemical weapon was 'much more serious that possessing a firearm'.

Mr Justice Saunders said he was satisfied that Ali did not intend to use ricin to hurt or kill anyone, but he did not believe his claims he meant to dispose of it immediately.

'Mr Ali knew from watching television and his researches that ricin is extremely dangerous.'
A woman in the public gallery who is believed to be a family member sobbed loudly as he was jailed and sent down from the dock.

The judge commended law enforcement agencies in Britain and the United States for ensuring that ricin - known as the 'poisoner's perfect poison' for leaving no trace - did not get into Ali's possession.

He told the court: 'I am satisfied that Mohammed Ali had no intention of disposing of ricin immediately. He intended to keep it.

'That created a real risk that, at some stage in the future, he might decide to experiment with it or it fall into the wrong hands.' 

in his defence, Ali told jurors that he was just 'curious' and wanted to test the boundaries of the Dark Web, unaware that ricin was illegal. 

He said: 'I found lots of different items ranging from drugs, guns, other illegal items, and because I had been watching Breaking Bad TV show I just had ricin in my mind.' 


The 'perfect poison' - ricin is hard to spot, kills within days and leaves no trace in the body.
Ricin is a highly toxic, naturally occurring substance produced in the seeds of the castor oil plant.
It is classed as both a chemical weapon and a biological weapon and attempting to possess it without a lawful reason is an offence under the Chemical Weapons Act.
It is highly poisonous if inhaled or injected where just a few grains of it can kill an adult.
Death typically occurs within three to five days of exposure and post mortem the rapidly metabolised toxin leaves no trace in blood or body tissue.
It was famously used to assassinate Bulgarian defector Georgi Markov in 1978, after a pellet of ricin was concealed in a modified umbrella which then injected the poison into his bloodstream. He died three days later.
Earlier in mitigation, Joel Bennathan QC said: 

'Mr Ali has a large supportive family who care for him.

'They are distraught and appalled by the mess he has got into. When he is released he will be supervised and will be occupied in order to make a living and looked after by his family.' 

The IT worker, who has two children aged four and six, then allegedly arranged for it to be delivered to his home address in the name 'Dylan Harvey'.

The package arrived hidden in the battery compartment of a toy supercar and he was arrested once it arrived.

Ali was said to have then searched the internet looking for local pet shops selling rabbits and chinchillas on which he could test the deadly poison.
According to investigators, the father had initiated contact with the 'seller' on January 11 asking for ricin to be sent to the UK. 

When he was given the prices which the FBI said was $200 (£130) per lethal dose, the buyer, which the prosecutor says is Ali, replied: 'Could you do it a little cheaper if I bought more?'

Before adding: 'How would one test if it is actually ricin, other than the obvious of course :)' 


Mohammed Ali's plot to get acquire ricin could be reconstructed by police through a forensic examination of his home computer and mobile phone, jurors were told. 

October 3-5, 2014: Internet searches on mobile phone and computer drugs.

November 18-25: Further Google searches for home made cyanide and ricin; hydrogen peroxide, ricin beans; castor oil plant (the components of ricin). He also searches for: 'cyanide poisoning; what are the symptoms of oral cyanide poisoning, and making ricin'.

January 11, 2015: Ali makes contact with FBI agent Peter posing as a ricin dealer on the Dark Web asking: 'Hi, would you be able to make me some ricin and send it to the UK?'
On his mobile phone, he made internet searches for 'easiest home made poison; what poison kills you quick, is foolproof, easily found/made, easily concealed and hard to detect post mortem - Yahoo answers'.

January 13 - February 6: Ali and Peter exchange encrypted messages under usernames of Weirdos 0000 and Dark Mart respectively leading to the agreement to send a package addressed to a Dylan Harvey containing a toy car with 'special batteries'.
February 4: Multi Bit installed on computer and payment out of 2.1849 Bitcoins is recorded on Multi Bit.

February 2-10: Entries on Ali's computer notepad file of 'paid ricin guy' and 'get pet to murder'.

February 10: Delivery to Ali's home of toy car with 'special batteries'. He then searches Google for 'Liverpool pet shop; Animal Rescue Centre; chinchillas Liverpool; The Animals Charity, and Rabbit rehome - adopt an unwanted bunny from a rescue centre.'
He was then arrested, and when asked if he had any dangerous ricin, he replied: 'None that I know of.' 

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