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Terrorism radiation plot uncovered in Albany

19 June 2013 General No Comment Email This Post Email This Post
Federal courthouse on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010, in Albany, N.Y. (Cindy Schultz / Times Union)

Federal courthouse on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010, in Albany, N.Y. (Cindy Schultz / Times Union)

Terrorism radiation plot uncovered in Albany

Feds: Suspect promised to build “Hiroshima on a light switch”

By Brendan J. Lyons, with staff reports

ALBANY, N.Y. — An industrial mechanic with General Electric Co., who is also allegedly a member of the Ku Klux Klan, designed a deadly mobile radiation device that he intended to sell to Jewish groups or a southern branch of the Ku Klux Klan, according to a federal complaint unsealed Wednesday in Albany.

The device was intended to be a truck-mounted radiation particle weapon that could be remotely controlled and capable of silently aiming a lethal beam of radioactivity at its human targets. The concept was that victims would eventually die from radiation sickness.

Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, of Galway, is accused in a federal complaint of developing “a radiation emitting device that could be placed in the back of a van to covertly emit ionizing radiation strong enough to bring about radiation sickness or death against Crawford’s enemies,” states the complaint attributed to an FBI agent.

Eric J. Feight, 54, of Hudson, also is identified as a co-conspirator and listed in the complaint as Crawford’s acquaintance. Feight works for an electronics company in Columbia County. He is accused in a federal complaint of agreeing to help Crawford construct the electronic controls for the device.

Crawford never actually obtained a radiation source and the device was not fully constructed, officials said. During the past year, the complaint indicates he was dealing with an undercover FBI agent pretending to be a supplier of radiation equipment, such as x-ray tubes used in construction projects or medical devices. At one point, the undercover agent sent an email to Crawford showing different x-ray systems that could be supplied.

The investigation broke open in April 2012 when Crawford allegedly went into an Albany-area synagogue and “asked to speak with a person who might be willing to help him with a type of technology that could be used by Israel to defeat its enemies, specifically, by killing Israel’s enemies while they slept,” the complaint says. He referred to Muslims and enemies of the United States as “medical waste,” according to court records.

Later that day, Crawford telephoned an Albany Jewish organization, using his cell phone, and made a similar offer, the complaint states. An FBI agent’s affidavit indicates that someone at the unidentified synagogue contacted police, who relayed the information to the FBI. At that point a Joint Terrorism Task Force began an investigation.

Rabbi Matthew Cutler of Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady said a “strange man” came to their synagogue in April 2012 and began discussing a device he developed that would protect the Jewish people, though he did not specify what it was. Cutler said that when they told the man they were not interested, he asked for suggestions on what he could do with his creation and employees told him to contact the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York.

“They had a hard time getting rid of him,” Cutler said. “He had this device, this plan on what to do.”

The employees, who are secretaries, were so shaken by the interaction they notified Guilderland police, Cutler said. He said he believes police interviewed Crawford and the synagogue increased security after the troubling interaction.

Shelly Shapiro, director of the Jewish Federation in Albany, said Crawford never visited their offices and his only contact with the organization was a brief telephone call last year.

After the encounters with the Jewish organizations, the FBI began investigating Crawford and took steps to get close to him.

The FBI complaint states that on June 5, 2012, Crawford met at a Scotia restaurant with a person working as a confidential source for the FBI. Crawford allegedly talked about his enemies and of being “tired of getting ‘raped,’ that there are people out there who have decided that they don’t get their fair share in life, and that (Crawford) wanted to stop these people.”

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