New York Man Paul Rosenfeld Allegedly Planned To Blow Himself Up Inside National Mall On Election Day

Large display of the National Mall with the Washington Monument in the background as a group of tourists walk.
Rob Crandall / Shutterstock

On Tuesday, federal officials received a warrant to search the home of Paul M. Rosenfeld of Tappan, New York. What they found inside was surely mindblowing: a home-made 200-pound bomb created by Rosenfeld, which he eventually admitted he was planning to use to blow up the National Mall on Election Day, reports BuzzFeed. Previously, federal officials were alerted to the strangeness of Rosenfeld’s activities by someone in Pennsylvania who was receiving strange texts and phone calls from an unidentified number, explaining the bombing events to come. According to the informant, he/she is not tied to Rosenfeld in anyway.

Regardless, reports started reaching the government in August that Rosenfeld had been ordering large amounts of black powder, having them shipped to New Jersey. Then, he would pick up the materials, bring them home, and construct handmade explosives using other materials. He even supposedly added “certain components” to the bomb in order to make sure he himself was killed in the blast.

When the explosive was found, it was a whopping 200 pounds, which could have hurt many innocent people if Rosenfeld’s plan had gone through. Surprisingly, the defendant was very open with his reason and planning efforts to investigators. Investigators were shocked to hear of the plan but relieved that it had been put to a stop.

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 Geoffrey S. Berman.

“Rosenfeld’s alleged plan for an Election Day detonation cut against our democratic principals.”

But why would someone want to commit such an act of terror? Rosenfeld filled in officials, saying that he wanted to promote the ideology of “sortition,” meaning political officials should be randomly chosen by the public. However, it is questionable if the message received by the public would surround that topic rather than fear for safety. William Sweeney, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI field office, added that the only certain outcome of the plan would have been death and injury to innocent people.

“Had he been successful, Rosenfeld’s alleged plot could have claimed the lives of innocent bystanders and caused untold destruction,” said William Sweeney.

According to NBC News, Rosenfeld has been charged with “unlawful manufacture of a destruction device” and “interstate transportation and receipt of an explosive.” Each count carries 10 years of jail time.

Apparently, “sortition” was a practice in Ancient Greece. Laws were passed by votes of panels of citizens, who were also chosen by lot.