Dan Amira writes at the Daily Intelligencer:
A plot to design a radiation weapon that could fit in a small van and be used to silently kill humans was unraveled by an FBI task force that charged two men — a General Electric Co. industrial mechanic from Saratoga County and a computer software expert from Columbia County -— with conspiring to sell the weapon to Jewish groups or a southern branch of the Ku Klux Klan.
A federal complaint unsealed Wednesday in Albany said the vehicle-mounted radiation gear was intended to be remotely controlled and capable of aiming a high-energy lethal beam of radioactivity at human targets. The concept was that victims would mysteriously die from radiation poisoning within days.
The FBI on Tuesday arrested Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, of Providence, Saratoga County, and Eric J. Feight, 54, of Stockport, who are accused 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,” according to an FBI agent’s sworn complaint.
Crawford, who was suspended from his job at GE in Schenectady this week, and Feight, who previously worked for an electronics company near Hudson, are acquaintances who over the past year had devised a plan to build and sell the weapon to a terrorist organization, according to the FBI. Crawford’s role was to design and build the radiation device and its power supply, the complaint states.
Feight’s role was to design and build the electronic triggering device that could be used to activate the weapon from a safe distance, the complaint states.
The men, both married, were charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists for use of a weapon of mass destruction. They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
They never actually obtained a radiation source and the device was not fully constructed, officials said.
Crawford was arrested Tuesday at an out-of-business auto body shop in Rensselaer County where he went to assemble and test the device, authorities said.
During the past year, the complaint indicates Crawford communicated and met regularly with an undercover FBI employee posing as a supplier of radiation equipment, such as X-ray tubes used in medical devices or construction test gear. Early-on, the undercover FBI employee sent an email to Crawford with pictures of different X-ray systems he could arrange to supply.
The FBI’s investigation began in April 2012 when, the complaint says, Crawford went to a Capital Region 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.”
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 the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Albany launched an investigation and began monitoring Crawford.
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.”
The employees, who are secretaries, were so shaken by the interaction they notified police, Cutler said. He said he believes police interviewed Crawford and the synagogue increased security after the troubling interaction.
Read more here.