A man who advocated for “social justice” because he was angry with the direction of the country was arrested by federal authorities in a plot to detonate a 200-pound bomb on the National Mall on Election Day.
56-year-old Paul Rosenfeld of Tappan, New York, was charged in federal court Wednesday with manufacturing an explosive device and interstate transport and receipt of an explosive. He could face up to 20 years in prison on those charges.
Authorities say he planned to kill himself on the National Mall on Election Day to protest the current government and the direction of the country, and to bring attention to a radical political system he advocated for on his website.
In a 2015 blog post, Rosenfeld quoted a writer about the benefits of “sortition,” a political system in which government officials are not elected, but chosen at random in a lottery.
The post goes on to criticize Christian ethics, which he said holds back political progress to “sortition” by pushing the idea that each person is entitled to a vote. He also rants about the Bush family as a political dynasty.
Rosenfeld argued that “sortition” could bring about the social justice many have been fighting for.
The FBI found a crude but functional bomb when they raided Rosenfeld’s home on Tuesday. It consisted of black powder inside of a plywood box, but authorities say it could have caused extensive damage and death had he carried out his plan. Empty canisters of black powder, the same type used in firearms and artillery, were also found.
The bomb in total reportedly weighed 200 pounds, but included at least eight pounds of black powder, enough to cause significant damage and loss of life.
The FBI said in court filings that Rosenfeld, after being pulled over on Tuesday, confessed to ordering large quantities of black powder over the internet and having the substance delivered to “a location in New Jersey.”
Rosenfeld took the black powder to New York, constructed smaller explosive devices and conducted test detonations, according to the criminal complaint.
William Sweeney Jr., the assistant director of the FBI’s New York field office, said in a statement that Rosenfeld intended to “detonate a large explosive to kill himself and draw attention to his radical beliefs.”
“Had he been successful, Rosenfeld’s alleged plot could have claimed the lives of innocent bystanders and caused untold destruction,” Sweeney said in the statement. “Fortunately, his plans were thwarted by the quick action of a concerned citizen and the diligent work of a host of our law enforcement partners and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.”
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Additional sourcing: Heavy.com