Federal officials say two men in New York state are charged in a bizarre plot to develop a mobile X-ray "death ray" machine to silently and remotely kill people flagged as "undesirable."
Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, and Eric J. Feight, 54, were arrested on Tuesday after an operation by Albany's FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Glendon Scott Crawford, an industrial mechanic and reported member of tea-party group Americans Demanding Liberty and Freedom and of the United Northern & Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, is said to have walked into a synagogue in Albany last year and "announced his intention to build a weapon that could help Israel kill its enemies while they slept." He sought financial backing. The synagogue members told him to get lost, according to prosecutors, so he asked a Ku Klux Klan leader in North Carolina, who also apparently told him to get lost.
Both groups told authorities about the man. He kept building his dream machine anyway. He planned to use it to kill Muslims, according to the criminal complaint unsealed in Federal District Court in Albany, and described it as "Hiroshima on a light switch."
Mr. Crawford, who the authorities say works for General Electric in Schenectady and lives in Galway, N.Y., believed the device would enable him to secretly poison people with lethal doses of radiation from a safe distance, the authorities said. On Wednesday, federal prosecutors charged Mr. Crawford, 49, and an engineer, Eric J. Feight, 54, of Hudson, N.Y., whom the authorities described as a co-conspirator who works in industrial automation, with conspiring to provide support for the building of a weapon of mass destruction. The authorities say Mr. Crawford relied on Mr. Feight to design the weapon.
Mr. Crawford, the authorities said, conceived of a powerful X-ray device that could be placed in a truck and driven near a target. The driver would park, leave the area and activate the device, "killing human targets silently and from a distance with lethal doses of radiation," the complaint against the men stated.
Mr. Crawford, in a conversation in January at a restaurant with a federal informer, described his plan as "Hiroshima on a light switch," and said that whoever wielded the device could kill with little chance of being caught, according to the complaint. As for motive, Mr. Crawford told two undercover agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation: "I am in this for my kids. I don't want money."
He added: "You know what? After this last election, the electoral process is dead."
From the Times-Union's account:
An FBI affidavit indicates that as many as eight unidentified people may have been assisting Crawford, including a fellow GE employee described as "Person C." The complaint implies that some of those individuals may have known at least elements of what Crawford was trying to do.
During the meeting at the Scotia restaurant a year ago, Crawford described his plan to an undercover informant to construct a powerful industrial X-ray machine that would be powered by a makeshift, 2,000-watt battery. The plan included an attempt by Crawford to find part-time work in a metal shop where he would have access to X-ray tubes containing radioactive materials, the complaint states.
"Crawford also told the (source) that the target of his radiation emitting device would be the Muslim community," the complaint states. "Crawford described the device's capabilities as 'Hiroshima on a light switch' and that 'everything with respiration would be dead by the morning.'"
Crawford ended the meeting by stating "how much sweeter could there be than a big stack of smelly bodies?"
Thumbnail: Glendon Scott Crawford leaving the Federal Courthouse in shackles after being arraigned Wednesday afternoon, June 19, 2013, in Albany, N.Y. (Skip Dickstein/Times Union).