- Two New York men were charged Wednesday with a plot to provide terrorists with an X-ray weapon that would sicken people with radiation.
- The weapon, a portable X-ray gun, was found to be incomplete and not currently operable, and experts question whether it could work in the first place.
- Feds have been investigating the men since April 2012 and had court orders to obtain phone record data, including content of text messages.
- One of the men blamed Obama for the attacks on the Boston Marathon, calling the president a "treasoness bedwetting [sic] maggot in chief." He also described the X-ray gun as "Hiroshima on a light switch."
Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, of Galway, N.Y., leaves the federal courthouse in shackles after being arraigned Wednesday June 19, 2013, in Albany, N.Y. Federal authorities accused Crawford and 54-year-old Eric J. Feight, of Hudson, N.Y. of assembling a portable X-ray weapon that they intended to use to secretly sicken opponents of Israel.(Photo: AP/The Albany Times Union, Skip Dickstein)
ALBANY, N.Y. (TheBlaze/AP) -- Federal authorities accused two upstate New York men Wednesday of assembling a portable X-ray weapon that they intended to use to secretly sicken opponents of Israel.
NBC News reported President Barack Obama being among their targets. The Albany Times Union reported that the men planned to sell the X-ray gun, which experts question functionality of, to Jewish groups or members of the Ku Klux Klan.
The indictment charged 49-year-old Glendon Scott Crawford, of Galway, and 54-year-old Eric J. Feight, of Hudson, with conspiracy to provide support to terrorists with the weapon, which the complain reports Crawford describing as "Hiroshima on a light switch" that would kill "everything with respiration."
Watch WPIX-TV's report on the technology and the charges the men have received:
Investigators said Crawford approached Jewish organizations last year looking for funding and people to help him with technology that could be used to surreptitiously deliver damaging and even lethal doses of radiation against those he considered enemies of Israel. He and Feight assembled the mobile device, which was to be controlled remotely, but it was inoperable and nobody was hurt, authorities said.
"Crawford has specifically identified Muslims and several other individuals/groups as targets," investigator Geoffrey Kent said in a court affidavit. According to the indictment, Crawford also traveled to North Carolina in October to solicit money for the weapon from a ranking member of the KKK, who informed the FBI. Crawford claimed to be a member.
The men appeared separately Wednesday in federal court in handcuffs and jail jumpsuits. Magistrate Christian Hummel ordered them detained until detention hearings Thursday. An attorney was assigned to each man.
This Wednesday, June 19, 2013 photo shows the home of Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, in Galway, N.Y. Federal authorities accused Crawford and 54-year-old Eric J. Feight, of Hudson, N.Y. of assembling a portable X-ray weapon that they intended to use to secretly sicken opponents of Israel. Investigators said Crawford approached Jewish organizations last year looking for funding and people to help him with technology that could be used to surreptitiously deliver damaging and even lethal doses of radiation against those he considered enemies of Israel. He and Feight assembled the mobile device, which was to be controlled remotely, but it was inoperable and nobody was hurt, authorities said. (Photo: AP/The Albany Times Union, Skip Dickstein)
Neither said anything to the crowd that filled the courtroom gallery. They could face up to 15 years in prison. Messages left on answering machines at their homes weren't returned Wednesday.
"This case demonstrates how we must remain vigilant to detect and stop potential terrorists, who so often harbor hatred toward people they deem undesirable," U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said in a statement.
The damaging effects of the radiation would have appeared only days later, authorities said. The investigation by the FBI in Albany and police agencies began in April 2012 after authorities received information that Crawford had approached the Jewish organizations.
Here's more from the Times Union on one of the organizations that received contact from the men:
Rabbi Matthew Cutler of Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady on Wednesday recounted that a "strange man" came to his 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 he and colleagues 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."
Crawford, an industrial mechanic for General Electric in Schenectady, knew Feight, an outside GE contractor with mechanical and engineering skills, through work, authorities said. Feight designed, built and tested the remote control, which they planned to use to operate an industrial X-ray system mounted on a truck.
According to the indictment, the investigators had a confidential undercover source in place within weeks after learning of Crawford's attempts to solicit money and later an undercover investigator introduced by the source. They recorded meetings and conversations, and in December investigators got court authorization to tap Crawford's phones, the indictment said.
The Times Union reported Crawford referring to Obama in a text message conversation sent the day of the Boston Marathon bombing as a "treasoness bedwetting [sic] maggot in chief" who "started bringing the scumbags [here] wholesale as he got in charge."
Last June, the undercover investigator brought Crawford X-ray tubes to examine for possible use in the weapon, followed by their technical specifications a month later. At a November meeting in an Albany coffee shop with undercover investigators, Crawford brought Feight, both said they were committed to building the device and named the group "the guild," the indictment said.
Investigators gave Feight $1,000 to build the control device and showed the men pictures of industrial X-ray machines they said they could obtain. They planned to provide him access to an actual X-ray system to assembly with the remote control Tuesday.
According to court documents, the sealed indictment was filed the same day and both men were arrested.
GE spokesman Shaun Wiggins said they were informed Tuesday of Crawford's arrest and he has been suspended from his job. They have no information that any employees' safety was compromised or the act he's accused of occurred there.
Dr. Fred Mettler, the U.S. representative on the United Nations' Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, was unfamiliar with the specifics of Crawford's plans but said it's unlikely such a device could work. Radiation can be narrowly beamed, as it is in some cancer treatments, but the accelerators require huge amounts of electricity, are not easily portable and any target would have to remain still for a long time.
"I don't know of any of these that you can use like a gun to aim at someone on the street," Mettler said.
It's at least the fourth terror-related arrest in upstate New York:
- Six men from Lackawanna, south of Buffalo, were charged in 2002 with conspiring to aid terrorists by attending Osama bin Laden's al-Farooq training camp in Afghanistan in 2001.
- Two leaders of an Albany mosque who were snared in a 2004 FBI sting involving a fictional terror strike were each sentenced in 2007 to 15 years in federal prison.
- Four men were convicted in 2009 in a plot to bomb synagogues and shoot down military planes with missiles
- a case that began after an FBI informant was assigned to infiltrate a mosque in Newburgh, 70 miles north of New York City.