New York Man Built Bomb, Planned to Kill Himself on Election Day

A New York man is facing charges after he allegedly planned to detonate a homemade 200-pound bomb in Washington, D.C. on Election Day, CBS News reports. FBI agents searched his home in upstate New York Wednesday, where they found the device.

Paul Rosenfeld, 56, planned to blow himself up with the bomb in the National Mall, prosecutors say, hoping to kill himself and draw attention to his political beliefs. They said Rosenfeld is a proponent of "sortition," an ancient political system in which government officials are randomly selected.

“Rosenfeld concocted a twisted plan to draw attention to his political ideology by killing himself on the National Mall in Washington, D.C — risking harm to many others in the process,” Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “Rosenfeld’s alleged plan for an Election Day detonation cut against our democratic principles.”

His plan was discovered when he allegedly sent letters and text massages to a person — who NBC News identified as a reporter — in Pennsylvania, detailing his plan to blow himself up, authorities said. The person contacted law enforcement, and on Tuesday, Rosenfeld was pulled over while driving and arrested by police.

He then admitted to ordering large quantities of explosive black powder on the Internet, which he'd transported from New Jersey to his home in Tappan, New York. He told investigators he installed "certain components in the explosive device to ensure that he was killed in the blast."

Rosenfeld also admitted to building smaller bombs and conducting test detonations, prosecutors said.

His home was searched Wednesday, when law enforcement officials discovered what "appeared to be a bomb weighing about 200 pounds." Court papers say only eight pounds of the explosive black powder were found inside the device. The extra weight was due to plywood crating and other components used to transport it. The device was removed by FBI bomb technicians and transported to a safe location in Rockland County. Agents later returned to the home to retrieve the bomb's fusing system.

Rosenfeld made his first appearance in New York federal court on Wednesday on charges of unlawful manufacture of a destruction device and interstate transportation and receipt of an explosive device. The FBI says they believe he acted alone and is not part of any larger terrorist organization. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

0comments

"Had he been successful, Rosenfeld’s alleged plot could have claimed the lives of innocent bystanders and caused untold destruction," said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney.

At a Senate hearing Wednesday morning, FBI Director Christopher Wray said his agents are investigating about 1,000 homegrown terror threats in all 50 states. "Those cover the waterfront of the full range of extremist ideologies from right to left and everything in between," he said.