GALWAY - A Galway resident and another man tried to build a "death ray" in a plot to kill opponents of Israel, federal authorities allege.
Glendon S. Crawford, 49, of 171 Hinds Road, and Eric J. Feight, 54, of Hudson wanted to kill "enemies of Israel" with doses of X-ray radiation fired from a mobile device, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The pair aimed to create "a mobile, remotely operated, radiation-emitting device capable of killing targeted individuals silently with lethal doses of X-ray radiation," the news release said. The damaging effects of the radiation would have appeared days later, authorities said.
Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, of Galway leaves the federal courthouse in shackles after being arraigned Wednesday in Albany.
AP/The Albany Times Union, Skip Dickstein
Crawford, who authorities said works as an industrial mechanic for the General Electric Co., and Feight were charged by federal authorities Wednesday with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
The Department of Justice news release stated the arrests followed an investigation by the Albany FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force that began in April 2012.
The news release said authorities received information Crawford approached local Jewish organizations seeking people who might help him with technology that could be used against Israel's enemies.
"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 Ku Klux Klan, who informed the FBI. Crawford claimed to be a member.
If convicted of the federal charge, Crawford and Feight each face a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and a term of supervised release up to five years.
No one answered a call to Crawford's home this morning.
The co-defendants were arraigned Wednesday afternoon before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Christian F. Hummel in Albany. They were ordered held without bail.
Mary Hargrave, wife of Galway Supervisor George Hargrave, said today neither had any contact with or knew Crawford.
Deb Finkle, a spokeswoman for the Knesseth Israel Synagogue in Gloversville, said today Crawford had no contact with that synagogue.
"The defendants plotted to use this device against unwitting victims who would not immediately be aware that they had absorbed lethal doses of radiation, the harmful effects of which would only appear days after the exposure," the Department of Justice news release said. "This was an undercover investigation and, unbeknownst to the defendants, the device that the defendants designed and intended to use was rendered inoperable at all times and posed no danger to the public."
Crawford 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.
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 assemble with the remote control Tuesday.
GE spokesman Shaun Wiggins said the company was informed Tuesday of Crawford's arrest and he has been suspended. They have no information that any employees' safety was compromised or the act he's accused of occurred there.
Dr. Fred Mettler, the American 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.