true crime

This Guy Made a 200-Pound Bomb to Promote His Bizarre Ideology, Feds Say

Paul M. Rosenfeld is accused of an Election Day plot targeting the National Mall in the name of something called "sortition."
October 10, 2018, 10:11pm
Left Image: Berryspun/Getty Images. Right Image: National Mall in DC. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors charged 56-year-old New York resident Paul M. Rosenfeld with assembling a bomb and moving explosive material across state lines as part of a planned Election Day attack on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

The alleged plot was disrupted, the feds said, after they questioned Rosenfeld a day earlier and he admitted to a sprawling plot supposedly inspired by his fervent belief in "sortition." That's the (ancient Greek) idea that politicians should be randomly selected from the body politic—possibly incentivizing regular people to be less ignorant of the issues at play, since they can't rely as much on professional politicians.

According to the feds, Rosenfeld copped to an array of both shady acts and straight-up crimes in service of the obscure and bizarre ideology. This included using a "burner" phone, buying at least eight pounds of gunpowder on the internet, transporting it from New Jersey to his home in Tappan, New York, and constructing an explosive for use in a lethal plot on the National Mall, which would end with his own death.

When they visited his home, cops said, they found a "200-pound" device housed in a plywood box, suggesting he was prepared to follow through. Another worrisome indicator on that front: According to the feds, Rosenfeld claimed he had successfully tested smaller explosive devices in the past.

The indictment said he acted alone, meaning this sortition revolution is likely over.

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