A New York man has been charged with building a 200-pound bomb he allegedly planned to detonate on Washington’s National Mall on Election Day.
Paul Rosenfeld, 56, appeared in federal court on Wednesday after law enforcement agents found an explosive device in his basement on Tuesday, according to a news release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Rosenfeld was pulled over while driving, and in an interview with law enforcement agents, he admitted to purchasing black powder online, transporting it to his house in New York from New Jersey and constructing an explosive device in his basement, the news release said. He also said he has previously built smaller explosives to test the devices, according to the release.
The explosive device was removed by FBI bomb technicians, and law enforcement also found a system built to trigger explosions in his home, the news release said.
A series of letters and text messages sent during August and September also show Rosenfeld intended to detonate the device as a way to bring attention to a political ideology called “sortition,” according to the news release, which it describes as a “theory that advocates the random selection of government officials.”
It was not immediately clear if Rosenfeld is being represented by an attorney.
“As alleged in the complaint, Paul M. Rosenfeld planned to detonate a large explosive to kill himself and draw attention to his radical political beliefs. Had he been successful, Rosenfeld’s alleged plot could have claimed the lives of innocent bystanders and caused untold destruction,” US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement.
Rosenfeld has been charged with one count of unlawfully manufacturing a destructive device and one count of interstate transportation and receipt of an explosive. Each charge has a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.