New York man charged over election day bomb plot

Suspect Paul Rosenfeld allegedly planned to blow himself up on Washington Mall as political protest

Capitol building
(Image credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A New York man has been arrested after allegedly building a massive bomb that he planned to detonate in Washington DC on the day of the upcoming midterm elections.

US authorities said they had searched Paul Rosenfeld’s home in Tappen, New York, following a tip-off and found a “functional” bomb weighing 200lbs (90kg), along with a “fusing system for triggering explosive devices”.

Rosenfeld, 56, is believed to have intended to draw attention to his political beliefs by blowing himself up in the election day attack, sources familiar with the case told ABC News.

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Officials said he was caught after revealing the supposed plot to an unidentified individual in Pennsylvania, who raised the alert.

“Rosenfeld’s letters and text messages stated, in substance and in part, that he intended to 1) build an explosive device; 2) transport the explosive device to Washington DC; and 3) detonate this explosive device on 6 November, 2018, on the National Mall in Washington DC,” the authorities said in court documents.

The bomb was removed from his home by FBI bomb technicians, who also found a system built to trigger explosions in the property, police said.

Rosenfeld “allegedly wanted to draw attention to an ideology called sortition, a belief that the government should be selected by lottery rather than popular vote”, reports The Daily Beast.

According to the Sortition Foundation, the selection of political officials as a random sample from a larger pool of candidates “has a long history, going back at least to Ancient Athens, where selection by lot (from among all free, male citizens) was the principal way courts and councils were filled”.

The campaign group’s website adds: “For hundreds of years it was considered a fundamental aspect of democracy.”

Rosenfeld was charged yesterday with unlawfully manufacturing a destructive device and with interstate transportation and receipt of an explosive, reports the New York Post. Each charge has a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.

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