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200-pound bomb Washington DC terror attack planned for election day thwarted

Aerial view of National Mall. (Carol M. Highsmith/WikiCommons)
October 14, 2018
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A homegrown terror attack plot went awry after a New York man confided in another individual about his plan and they notified authorities.

Paul Rosenfeld, 56, admitted that he concocted a 200-pound bomb and was planning a suicide bombing on Election Day in Washington, D.C., CBS News reported.

Court records show that Rosenfeld corresponded with an individual from Pennsylvania and gave the specifics of his plot, which was to take place at the National Mall in Washington. The individual informed the FBI, and on Tuesday, police apprehended Rosenfeld.

Rosenfeld waived his Miranda rights and confessed to police.

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FBI agents searched Rosenfeld’s home near New York City and recovered the massive bomb on Wednesday, which they were able to safely remove from his basement.

Rosenfeld planned the attack to stand as a voice for his political beliefs of a “sortition” political system and he strategically planned to end his own life in the explosion with certain components in the bomb, according to the prosecution.

During his confession, Rosenfeld admitted that he purchased large amounts of “black powder” online and he also made sample tests of the bombs prior to making the final bomb, which he planned to use in his terror plot.

Rosenfeld appeared in a New York federal court Wednesday and could face 20 years in prison if he is convicted.

FBI agents said they had no reason to believe Rosenfeld was affiliated with a larger terror group, and it appears he acted alone.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said there are homegrown terror threats across all the U.S. and they are currently investigating around 1,000 of them. “Those cover the waterfront of the full range of extremist ideologies from right to left and everything in between,” Wray said.

Last month, Wray said that homegrown terror attacks are fueled by social media, The New York Post reported.

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“People think of the 9/11 threat, they think New York, they think DC. Today’s terrorism threat is everywhere, coast to coast, north, south, east, west. It’s not just big cities,” Wray said.

“I mean, terrorism today moves at the speed of social media. The part of it is engaging with social media companies in a way to try to get them to do certain things they can do voluntarily,” he said.

Wray said the FBI has most recently stopped possible terror attacks in San Francisco, Miami, Cleveland, and Minnesota and arrested around 120 people for terrorism-related crimes in 2017.

“We had about 1,000 investigations into just these homegrown violent extremists. That’s out of about 5,000 terrorism investigations,” Wray said.

He added, authorities get “about 15,000” tips a year — or “basically 40 tips a day, two tips an hour.”

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