All federal authorities have said about the remote-activated mobile X-ray system allegedly designed by Glendon Scott Crawford is that it would have worked with lethal results.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office have declined to elaborate on how the device would have operated, even after several radiation safety experts publicly expressed doubt about the plausibility of such a mechanism. Now prosecutors are asking U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe to issue a protective order ensuring any details of the so-called death ray be kept confidential between the parties in the case during discovery and perhaps even at Crawford’s trial, which is scheduled to begin April 29.
In addition, prosecutors are asking that the court seal information concerning their “undercover government employees” involved in the yearlong investigation that ended with the arrest of Crawford and Eric Feight in June 2013. Protecting their identities is critical to guarding the safety of them and others — including those sources or cooperating witnesses who introduced them to Crawford and Feight, prosecutors say.
“Similarly, limiting dissemination of details of the weaponized, mobilized and remotely controlled radiation-emitting device designed to kill or seriously injure unsuspecting human targets also has underlying reasons that are readily apparent — protecting public safety and reducing the likelihood of similar attempts by others,” states the prosecution’s motion.
In January, Crawford, 49, of Providence, was indicted on the felony charges of attempting to produce and use a radiological dispersal device, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and distributing information relating to weapons of mass destruction. On the same day, Feight, 55, of Stockport, admitted to one felony count of providing material support to terrorists. He could face up to 15 years in prison when sentenced May 22.
Both men have remained in jail since their arrest last year. Kevin Luibrand, Crawford’s defense attorney, declined to comment on the case Wednesday.
In the criminal complaint filed in June, federal investigators portrayed Crawford as a man driven by his hatred for Muslims and a relentless desire to silently harm them from afar. They described him as a member of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan who was on the verge of creating a weapon that would have allowed him to act on his deep-seated hatred.
Prosecutors contend Crawford — a former General Electric Co. industrial mechanic — began offering up his weapon in 2012 under the premise of causing harm to Muslims. Several groups, including a pair of Capital Region Jewish organizations and the Klan in North Carolina, alerted federal authorities to Crawford’s offer and the feds began a lengthy sting operation.
FBI investigators tracked Crawford through his contact with undercover agents posing as people sympathetic to his cause and others who assisted him over the course of 14 months. They claim Crawford was able to draw up a schematic and assemble parts to create a system that would have caused injury at a minimum, perhaps even death.
Feight, who knew Crawford through his contract work with General Electric, produced a remote device that would allow him to operate the truck-mounted X-ray from nearly a half-mile away. Crawford was arrested last summer just as he was powering up the X-ray device in an out-of-business garage in Schaghticoke; Feight was taken into custody a short time later.
Several experts have scoffed at the idea that such a device could work since it would require massive amounts of electricity, weigh enough to crush most vehicles and would require victims to remain still in order to face prolonged exposure from close-range radiation. The defense attorneys for the men also claimed that neither possesses the educational background to create a functional X-ray device capable of causing injury.