The Department of Justice said Wednesday that authorities thwarted a New York man’s plan to blow himself up on Election Day to bring attention to his political beliefs.
“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,” William F. Sweeney Jr., FBI assistant director-in-charge, said in a press release.
The 56-year-old man reportedly told authorities that he planned to detonate a large explosive device on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to bring attention to his belief in sortition, which advocates the random selection of government officials.
Rosenfeld was charged on two counts after FBI agents discovered a 200-pound explosive device in his home, according to the DOJ.
“In the basement, law enforcement agents found what appeared to be a functional explosive device weighing approximately 200 pounds,” the release said.
Authorities were informed of the man’s purported plan from an unidentified person in Pennsylvania.
What’s the story?
Rosenfeld sent letters and text messages describing his alleged plan to the unidentified tipster who notified law enforcement, according to court documents.
On Tuesday, authorities pulled the man over while he was driving a car.
Rosenfeld allegedly told agents during an interview that he had purchased large amounts of the explosive substance, black powder, online, which he picked up and transported from New Jersey to his home in New York, the release said.
He said he used approximately 8 pounds of black powder to build a large bomb in the basement of his home, adding that he installed components in the explosive device to make sure he was killed in the blast planned for Nov. 6., according to the complaint.
Authorities arrested Rosenfeld after conducting a federal search warrant at his home the same day.
Along with the 200-pound explosive, “law enforcement agents also found, among other things, a fusing system for triggering explosive devices and what appeared to be empty canisters of black powder,” according to officials.
Bomb technicians removed the device from the home. Authorities believe there is no further threat to the community.
What are the charges?
On Wednesday, Rosenfeld was charged by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York with one count of unlawfully manufacturing a destructive device and one count of interstate transportation and receipt of an explosive.
Each of the charges carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if he’s found guilty.