Terrorism radiation plot uncovered in Albany - Times Union
By Brendan J. Lyons, with staff reports
Updated 4:38 pm, Wednesday, June 19, 2013
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."
In telephone calls recorded by the FBI, Crawford identified himself as "a member of the Ku Klux Klan, specifically, the United Northern & Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan."
Crawford is listed on several websites as a member of Americans Demanding Liberty and Freedom, a Galway-based Tea Party group.
Two months ago, in a five-part text message monitored by the FBI, Crawford, said that he found a power-supply for the weapon in a message laced with political anger. The text messages were sent on April 15, the day of the Boston Marathon bombing.
"Well, tell it to your treasoness bedwetting maggot in chief," Crawford wrote, apparently referring to President Barack Obama, according to a transcript in the complaint. "He started bringing the scumbags (here) wholesale as he got in charge. He directed the ins (U.S. immigration agency) to start bringing the muzzies here without background checks."
In numerous conversations of Crawford's recounted in the complaint, he expresses awareness that the government may be monitoring his communications and purchases. He developed a system of code words, and said he planned to obtain fake identification listing his name as "Dimitri" in order to purchase items related to the alleged plot. Feight's code name was "Yoda," according to the complaint. An FBI affidavit indicates that as many as six unidentified people were assisting Crawford, including a fellow GE employee. 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 purchase or construct a powerful industrial x-ray machine that would be powered by batteries. 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, 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?"
The FBI complaint charges Crawford and Feight with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, including use of a weapon of mass destruction.
According to federal authorities, Crawford recruited Feight, who worked for a manufacturer of electronic control devices in Hudson, to assist him with the design and construction of the device. Feight, as an outside contractor, met Crawford last year through their association at General Electric Co., according to the complaint.
FBI agents were able to get a "confidential human source" and an undercover FBI employee close to Crawford in May 2012, recording their conversations and meetings. In December, the FBI obtained a search warrant that enabled them to monitor Crawford's and Feight's cell phone calls, emails and text messages.
Under the plot described by the FBI, Crawford concentrated on building the radiation device while Feight was building the electronic controls. The two men met May 20 in Albany and Feight gave a remote-transmission device to Crawford. They had planned a test to take place at an undisclosed hotel in the Albany area.
The suspects had successfully tested the remote triggering system that could work from a little less than a half mile away from the weapon, the complaint states. On June 12, they planned to have a dinner where Crawford would be provided with the radiation system, which was not finished. When the men were meeting, the FBI was monitoring their activities, including using undercover informants who posed as members of a South Carolina Ku Klux Klan group interested in purchasing the device and financing the project.
On Tuesday, the FBI seized a vehicle of Crawford's at Shorty's, an out-of-business auto body shop Schaghticoke, as the supects had allegedly planned to conduct a test-run of the triggering system. A law enforcement official said the auto business had nothing to do with the plot.
The men were arrested Tuesday by an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Albany on Wednesday afternoon. U.S. Magistrate Christian Hummel told Crawford he would be assigned an attorney. "Is it going to be the right kind of attorney for this?" Crawford said to the judge.
The men both were ordered held without bond pending detention hearings. They each face up to 15 years in prison if convicted, federal prosecutors said.
In a statement, General Electric said: "On Tuesday afternoon the FBI informed GE that Glendon Scott Crawford, a GE manufacturing employee, was arrested for a criminal act. We have no reason to believe the act took place on GE property nor is there any information indicating that our employees' safety was ever compromised. Since this incident, Mr. Crawford has been suspended. We are cooperating fully with the authorities on their investigation."
The complaint indicates that Crawford, who lives on Hinds Road in Galway, is married and has three children, although that information could not be independently verified. On LinkedIn, a social media website that caters to business professionals, Crawford describes himself in a personal profile as an "obedient drone at GE." Published reports also indicate that Crawford's son, Glendon, is a former Galway High School honor student and a member of the New York Army National Guard.
In March, Crawford was among hundreds of people across the state who were listed as plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature challenging the constitutionality of the NY Safe Act, which placed new restrictions on the sale and ownership of firearms.
Feight, who lives on Knitt Road in Hudson, formerly worked as a computer software expert and "project engineer" for Smith Control Systems, a Hudson company. A company official said Feight has not worked at the company since 2010. "We have no knowledge of his activities since that date," the official said.
Rob Gavin, Chris Churchill, Scott Waldman, Matt Hamilton, Bob Gardinier, Hannah Nesich, Sarah Hinman-Ryan and Eric Anderson contributed email@example.com
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06/19/2013 09:37 PM