Federal authorities were holding a New York man who they said planned to blow himself up on Washington’s National Mall on Election Day in November to promote his ideology that requires government leaders to be randomly selected.
Paul Rosenfeld, 56, was charged on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan with building multiple explosives, including a 200-pound bomb, in his basement in Tappan, New York, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.
“Had he been successful, Rosenfeld’s alleged plot could have claimed the lives of innocent bystanders and caused untold destruction,” William Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said in a statement.
Rosenfeld is being held without bail until his arraignment, which has been set for Nov. 9, Dawn Dearden, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said by telephone.
He was charged with manufacturing a destructive device and interstate transportation and receipt of an explosive, each of which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence, prosecutors said.
His attorney, Rachel Martin of the Federal Defenders of New York, had no comment.
After he was picked up for questioning on Tuesday, Rosenfeld told an FBI agent that he planned to take a bomb to Washington and blow himself up on Nov. 6, Election Day, on the National Mall, the area between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial that includes the Washington Monument, according to a complaint.
Federal agents first learned of the plot after Rosenfeld described his plans in letters and text messages he sent to an unidentified person in Pennsylvania between August and September, the complaint said.
Rosenfeld told investigators that the purpose of the dramatic suicide he planned was to draw attention to his belief in “sortition,” it said.
The Sortition Foundation, a U.K.-based group that promotes the ideology, defines it on its website as “the use of random selection to populate assemblies or fill political positions.” The organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment or to say whether Rosenfeld is a member.
After searching Rosenfeld’s home, agents found a 200-pound bomb in the basement filled with explosive black powder, the complaint said.
Rosenfeld, who told investigators he acted alone, had been planning his mission since at least August and had already conducted test detonations of smaller devices using black powder, the complaint said.
Reporting by Peter Szekely; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and David Gregorio
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US President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to slash the number of troops it maintains in Germany by more than a quarter in the coming months, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The newspaper said the Defense Department would cut the number of military personnel by 9,500 from the current 34,500 permanently assigned to Germany postings.
The Journal also said a cap of 25,000 would be set on how many US troops could be inside German at any one time, whether in permanent postings or temporary rotations, half of the current allowance.
The move would significantly reduce the US commitment to European defense under the NATO umbrella, though it could also impact Pentagon operations related to Africa and the Middle East.
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The Manhattan District Attorney announced on Friday that his office would not be prosecuting protesters arrested for low-level crimes.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. announced that Unlawful Assembly and Disorderly Conduct would not be prosecuted during the demonstrations over police violence.
"“The prosecution of protestors charged with these low-level offenses undermines critical bonds between law enforcement and the communities we serve. Days after the killing of George Floyd, our nation and our city are at a crossroads in our continuing endeavor to confront racism and systemic injustice wherever it exists. Our office has a moral imperative to enact public policies which assure all New Yorkers that in our justice system and our society, black lives matter and police violence is a crime. We commend the thousands of our fellow New Yorkers who have peacefully assembled to demand these achievable aims, and our door is open to any New Yorker who wishes to be heard," Vance said in a statement.
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On Friday, WTTW reported that Ghian Foreman, the president of the Chicago Police Board, has filed a complaint alleging he was beaten in the legs five times by police officers at a protest against the killing of George Floyd last Sunday.
The Chicago Police Board is an independent civilian commission that has power over police disciplinary cases.
"Foreman filed a complaint with the Citizens Office of Police Accountability alleging that he was struck by at least one officer during a protest sparked by the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police, said Ephraim Eaddy, a spokesperson for the agency," said the report. "Foreman’s complaint, which identifies the officer Foreman said struck him, is one of 344 complaints of police misconduct filed with COPA between midnight May 29 and 7 a.m. Friday, Eaddy said. The complaint itself is confidential."