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Crime

Man planned to set off 200-pound bomb in Washington on election day, FBI says

Officials say man planned to use the device to kill himself and gain attention for a political belief called sortition, in which politicians are chosen for office at random

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 October, 2018, 7:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 October, 2018, 7:00pm

Federal authorities have arrested and charged a New York state man who they say planned to build a 200-pound (91kg) bomb and detonate it on election day on the Mall in Washington.

Paul M Rosenfeld, 56, of Tappan, New York, was charged on Wednesday in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York with unlawfully manufacturing a destructive device and with interstate transportation and receipt of an explosive, according to the FBI.

Officials said he planned to use the bomb to kill himself and gain attention for a political belief called sortition, in which politicians are chosen at random for office instead of by elections.

It was not clear whether Rosenfeld had a lawyer.

Rosenfeld’s alleged plot could have claimed the lives of innocent bystanders and caused untold destruction
William Sweeney, FBI

Rosenfeld “concocted a twisted plan to draw attention to his political ideology by killing himself on the National Mall,” said US Attorney Geoffrey Berman in a statement.

In August and September, Rosenfeld sent text messages and letters to someone in Pennsylvania, telling of his plans to detonate a bomb on the Mall, authorities said.

On Tuesday, the FBI raided his home in Rockland County, New York, and found a workable bomb in his basement. It was taken to a “safe location” in Rockland County, officials said. Federal agents also found empty black powder canisters and a fusing system that could trigger an explosive.

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FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney said: “Rosenfeld’s alleged plot could have claimed the lives of innocent bystanders and caused untold destruction.” He said a concerned citizen had tipped off investigators.

Agents said they think Rosenfeld was acting alone in the alleged plot.