Federal investigators believe an industrial mechanic employed at General Electric Co. and with ties to the Ku Klux Klan conspired with one of the company’s contractors to create a remotely-operated industrial-strength ionizing device capable of blasting lethal doses of radiation at targeted groups, including Muslims.
Authorities accused Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, of Galway, and Eric J. Feight, 54, of Hudson, of creating the truck-mounted X-ray device so it could employed by Jewish groups or other organizations intending to harm Muslims. Though the system was never at risk of becoming fully operational, prosecutors believe the blueprint the men created would have resulted in something capable of being activated from nearly a half-mile away and causing significant injury without its intended victims every realizing its existence.
“The intent was to direct it toward people that they wanted to injure,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Duncan said. “From our analysis, this device would have been able to do that and even kill people.”
'Death ray' suspect allegedly solicited local Jewish groups. Click HERE.
Crawford apparently knew Feight through his contracting with General Electric, according to the criminal complaint filed by FBI special agent Geoffrey Kent on Tuesday and unsealed in federal court Wednesday. Feight is listed as vice president of Genius Industrial Solutions, a company that builds automation and embedded controls for a variety of uses.
Both men appeared in U.S. District Court in Albany on Wednesday after each was arrested on a count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. They were ordered held without bail.
If convicted, each faces as much as 15 years in prison.
Crawford was taken into custody at the defunct Shorty’s Autobody in the Rensselaer town of Schaghticoke late Tuesday afternoon. Federal investigators said Crawford believed he was meeting up with someone with access to an industrial X-ray system — the last piece he needed to construct his lethal device.
But the two individuals Crawford thought were conspirators in his plot turned out to be undercover FBI agents, who were closely monitoring his progress. As a result, Duncan said Crawford’s machine never stood a chance of functioning as it was intended.
“Due to the close monitoring of the undercover officers, there was no chance of this device being activated,” he said.
Kevin Luibrand, a court-appointed lawyer representing Crawford, hadn’t spoken with his client and declined to comment on the complaint. General Electric released a statement acknowledging Crawford’s arrest and indicating the company is cooperating with investigators.
“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,” reads the statement. “Since this incident, Mr. Crawford has been suspended. We are cooperating fully with authorities on their investigation.”
George Baird, Feight’s court-appointed attorney, did not return calls for comment Wednesday. A spokesman for Feight’s company also declined comment.
The criminal complaint describes two “branches” of the investigation, one initiated after Crawford’s inquiries to local Jewish organizations looking for backing. The other branch came in with Crawford’s contacts later in 2012 with a high-ranking member of a Klan organization in North Carolina.
The complaint depicts Crawford — who identified himself as a member of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan — as someone hostile to the government and bent on attacking Muslims. Online, Crawford identified himself as coordinator of Americans Demanding Liberty and Freedom, a local group associated with the Tea Party Patriots.
Investigators with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force were first alerted to Crawford’s plot after he approached an area synagogue in April 2012, offering them a weapon to target “enemies of Israel.” Crawford also approached another Albany-area Jewish organization offering the same service, prompting both to alert area authorities.
In June 2012, Crawford met with a confidential FBI source at a restaurant in Scotia, where he allegedly stated “that he was 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 he wanted to stop these people.”
At that meeting, Crawford identified the Muslim community as his targets and described the device he sought to build as “Hiroshima on a light switch” that would kill “everything with respiration” by the next morning. The meeting concluded with Crawford asking what could be sweeter “than a big stack of smelly bodies?” according to the complaint.
About four months after Crawford’s meeting in Scotia, he went to North Carolina to solicit funds for his scheme from the Klan, according to a criminal complaint. The ranking Klan member later told authorities about Crawford’s plot, which allowed federal agents to pose as potential co-conspirators.
Crawford, who referred to himself as “Yoda,” was able to enlist Feight — referred to by the code-name “Dimitri” — to build the remote control for the device. In joining the plan, Feight told undercover agents he felt compelled to do something after “seeing the direction things were going” after the election.
”It’s like well, OK, you know, that old saying is right,” he told the agent in November 2012. “You know, the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Federal agents received a warrant to tap Crawford’s emails and phone conversations in December 2012. The result was a trove of plans he was crafting with Feight and others as they gathered parts and tested the functionality of the remote device.
In January, Crawford told undercover agents he intended to use the device to target Muslim organizations, a political figure and a political party. He stated his goal was purely ideological in nature.
“I’m in this for my kids,” he told an agent, according to the complaint. “I don’t want money. ... You know what, after this last election the electoral process is dead ... so now, all that is left is to make the [expletive] pay.”
Crawford’s fury toward Muslims and the government continued after the fatal bombings during the Boston Marathon on April 15. In a text message intercepted by authorities, he blasted both.
“Well, tell it to your treasonous bedwetting maggot in chief,” states the text message included in the complaint. “He started bringing the scumbags [here] wholesale as he got in charge.”