Paul Rosenfeld House In Tappan

Sean Adams/WCBS 880

Rockland County Man, Accused In D.C. Election Day Suicide Bomb Plot, Held Without Bail

October 11, 2018 - 7:51 am

TAPPAN, N.Y. (WCBS 880/CBS News) -- A Rockland County man, accused of making a 200-pound bomb and planning to blow himself up in Washington, D.C., on Election Day, is being held without bail.

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Prosecutors said Paul Rosenfeld, 56, of Tappan, planned to detonate the explosive device in Washington, hoping to kill himself and draw attention to his political belief that government officials should be selected at random.

FBI agents searched his home where they discovered the 200 pound device in the basement along with 8 pounds of black powder purchased on the internet, WCBS 880's Sean Adams reported.

According to court papers, over the past two months, Rosenfeld allegedly sent letters and text messages to a Pennsylvania man detailing his plan to detonate the bomb on the National Mall to draw attention to the "sortition" political system, in which government officials are randomly selected.

The Pennsylvania man alerted the FBI and police pulled Rosenfeld over Tuesday. After waiving his Miranda rights, Rosenfeld admitted his plan.

He told agents he ordered large quantities of "black powder" online and built small test explosives before constructing the 200-pound explosive device in a plywood box in his basement. He said he installed certain components in the device to ensure that he was killed in the blast.

“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," U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said. "Rosenfeld’s alleged plan for an Election Day detonation cut against our democratic principles.” 

"Had he been successful, Rosenfeld’s alleged plot could have claimed the lives of innocent bystanders and caused untold destruction," said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr.

On Wednesday, FBI technicians removed the bomb from his basement and transferred it to a safe location.

At a Senate hearing Wednesday morning, FBI Director Christopher Wray said his agents are investigating about 1,000 homegrown terror threats in all 50 states.

"Those cover the waterfront of the full range of extremist ideologies from right to left and everything in between," Wray said.

Rosenfeld, who is charged with unlawfully manufacturing a destructive device, made his first appearance in New York federal court earlier Wednesday. The FBI says they do not believe he is part of any larger terrorist organization. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The arrest came as a shock to residents of Tappan, a sleepy hamlet rich with Revolutionary War era history. This is where the Continental Army tried and hanged traitor Benedict Arnold's co-conspirator, British Major John André.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. CBS News contributed to this report.)