The FBI has arrested a New York man accused of plotting to blow himself up on Election Day in the National Mall in a suicide bombing. Prosecutors said his plan was to draw attention to “sortition,” which is a “political theory that advocates the random selection of government officials.”
Paul Rosenfeld was charged October 10 with unlawfully manufacturing a destructive device and interstate transportation and receipt of an explosive, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said in a press release. Rosenfeld told the FBI he was not aiming to injure or kill anyone other than himself, but federal authorities said the bombing would have put others at risk.
“As alleged, Paul M. 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,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement. “Rosenfeld’s alleged plan for an Election Day detonation cut against our democratic principles. Thanks to outstanding coordination between local and federal law enforcement, Rosenfeld’s alleged plot was thwarted and he is now in federal custody.”
The FBI said in a criminal complaint that agents found, “a functional explosive device weighing approximately 200 pounds,” in the basement of Rosenfeld’s home in Tappan, New York, in Rockland County. In a blog post in 2015, Rosenfeld said, “Those of us who feel that voting (in its current configuration) represents a scam should be agitating outside of the poles [sic] at every election.”
Here’s what you need to know about Paul Rosenfeld, his alleged bombing plot and sortition:
1. Rosenfeld Told a Reporter in Pennsylvania He Planned to Blow Himself Up Because He Is Angry With the Direction the Country & Told the FBI He Had Made Smaller Devices to Conduct Test Detonations
Paul Rosenfeld began communicating with a reporter in Pennsylvania about his plan to blow himself up, leading to the FBI investigation, NBC New York reports. He told the unnamed reporter he was “angry about the country’s direction,” the news station reports.
Rosenfeld sent letters and text messages to the reporter and in those messages, he detailed the plans for the suicide bombing, according to the criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of New York. Rosenfeld also told the reporter about his support for the sortition theory, the FBI said in the complaint.
The FBI served a search warrant at Rosenfeld’s home in Tappan, New York, on October 9, according to court documents. He was then interviewed by agents and told them he had ordered “large quantities of ‘black powder’ over the Internet,” and brought it to his house in New York. Rosenfeld told the agents he made “smaller explosive devices” than the one he planned to use on Election Day and “had conducted test detonations.”
Rosenfeld also used about eight pounds of the “black powder” to build a larger explosive device in his basement, according to the criminal complaint. He told the agents he installed “certain …read more