A 56-year-old Rockland County man was apprehended during an FBI raid Wednesday after allegedly plotting to blow himself up with a 200-pound bomb on Election Day at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Paul Rosenfeld of Tappan wanted to kill himself in order to bring attention to his “radical political beliefs,” authorities said.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman. “Rosenfeld’s alleged plan for an Election Day detonation cut against our democratic principles.”
Rosenfeld sent letters and text messages to an individual in Pennsylvania, Berman said. The letters and text messages stated that he planned to build an explosive device and detonate it on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at the National Mall.
His stated reason for these acts was to draw attention to his political belief in “sortition,” a political theory that advocates the random selection of government officials.
He allegedly bought large quantities of black powder over the internet to build a large bomb in his basement, and had previously made and tested other small bombs.
FBI agents and Orangetown Police officers blocked a Tappan street during the day on Wednesday as they served an arrest warrant based on threats made against targets out of the area, according to Orangetown Supervisor Chris Day said.
“At this time I can state that there is no danger to the public and that the Orangetown Police Department, along with county assets and the FBI, were serving an arrest warrant based on threats that were made to targets, not in the local area," said Day.
The officers converged on Slocum Avenue, off Washington Street and west of the Palisades Parkway near Route 303 in Tappan, earlier on Wednesday.
The streets were blocked and all vehicles were turned away.
On Tuesday, a law enforcement agent stopped a car driven by Rosenfeld.
Rosenfeld agreed to answer questions and, in an interview with law enforcement, stated that he ordered large quantities of black powder — an explosive substance — over the Internet, which he transported from a location in New Jersey to his home in Tappan.
He stated, among other things, that he used approximately eight pounds of black powder to construct a large explosive device in the basement of the Residence, and that he installed certain components in the explosive device to ensure that he was killed in the blast.
During the raid Wednesday, FBI bomb technicians removed the 200-pound explosive device inside plywood box from the basement of the residence and transported it to a secure location.
Within the residence, 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.
Rosenfeld has been charged with one count of unlawfully manufacturing a destructive device, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and one count of interstate transportation and receipt of an explosive, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Berman praised the investigative work of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which consists principally of agents of the FBI and detectives of the New York City Police Department.
Berman also thanked the Rockland County Sheriff’s Office, the Stony Point Police Department, the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office, New York State Police, and the Orangetown Police Department for their valuable assistance.
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