Opening arguments begin at Glendon Scott Crawford’s trial for allegedly building X-Ray weapon
By Robert Gavin
Updated 11:19 pm, Monday, August 17, 2015
He seemed like a nut.
That was the impression Glendon Scott Crawford left on employees of two Jewish organizations in the Capital Region when the reputed Klansman approached them in 2012 with an unusual offer to defend Israel with “off-the-shelf” technology.
“He had a plan to help Jews get rid of their enemies. I told him we don’t really have any direct contact with Israel,” testified Kathryn Laws, a longtime administrative assistant at Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady, where Crawford paid a visit in mid-April 2012.
Crawford’s would-be help involved a mobile, radiation-spewing X-ray weapon that Crawford, 51, of Providence in Saratoga County, planned to acquire and use to silently eradicate Muslims, according to federal prosecutors at Crawford’s trial on terrorism-related charges, which began Monday in U.S. District Court.
“How much sweeter can it be than a big stack of smelly bodies?” Crawford allegedly told an informant secretly recording him for the federal government.
But in April 2012, Crawford’s demeanor alone spooked Laws, who said Crawford rang the buzzer and was hanging out by the main entrance instead of approaching, which aroused suspicion because at the time Jewish organizations were on guard for anti-Semitic attacks. She said she referred Crawford to the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York on Washington Avenue, which appeared to please Crawford.
“He seemed like an unstable person and I was trying to get him out of the building without making him angry,” Laws testified, noting she warned the federation of their pending visitor.
Robin Margolis, who headed the federation at the time, testified that Crawford called him by phone talking about a “black bag operation” to aid Jewish people.
“He said he wanted to help Israel and he had off-the-shelf technology that would kill Israel’s enemies as they slept,” Margolis testified. “I explained to him that we’re a social services organization. We don’t really have those connections.”
Crawford’s interaction with the Jewish groups, who contacted police, was enough to spark an FBI investigation. By April 11, 2012, the FBI was surveilling Crawford at his home and job at General Electric, FBI Special Agent Christopher West testified.
As West took the stand, prosecutors played a sequence of recordings made by the paid informant. The informant, using the name “Dan Matthews,” called Crawford and claimed he was involved with a “white power” website called whitelife.com. Crawford asked the man if he got his name through the “knights” — a reference to Crawford’s membership in the Ku Klux Klan.
On May 30, Crawford met with the informant at Ming’s Chinese restaurant in Scotia where Crawford provided an earful for the prosecution, the recording revealed.
“You don’t know I’m not a fed,” Crawford told the informant after they stepped outside the eatery. “You’re the third person in the state of New York that knows I’m a member of the Klan ...my wife doesn’t even know.”
Crawford said at another point: “I think Islam is an opportunistic infection of human DNA. It’s like a rabid animal.”
And he asked the informant: “What do you know about radiation?”
On the recording, Crawford spoke of ways to kill people from a distance without the targets knowing they were hit.
“You don’t want to be anywhere near this thing,” he said. Crawford allegedly gave the informant paperwork about radiation and electronic beams — as well as his KKK business card.
On the recording, Crawford suggested using a drone for his would-be device. He also told the informant about a process called thermal depolymerization where “you can turn (people) into oil.”
At one point, Crawford boasted that he could hide the mobile X-ray device in a van marked as “Halal meat” — a reference to food eaten by Muslims.
In a lengthy opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Green outlined the various stages of Crawford’s alleged plan, repeatedly telling the jury that Crawford sought to use a would-be terror device on “human targets.” He said Crawford used co-workers and family as pawns in his plot.
Defense attorney Kevin Luibrand said his client, a conspiracy theorist and “big talker,” holds strong political beliefs and, at the time of the alleged plot, was fearful that America could fall victim to terrorist attacks such as ones that had just hit Europe. He said Crawford theorized the weapon as a defense against terror.
“He had, he thought, a unique idea that he thought the bad guys could be destroyed by a device,” Luibrand said. He argued that the federal government pulled his client further into the plot when all Crawford has was a “piece of paper and an idea.”
Crawford is charged with attempting to produce, construct, acquire, transfer, receive, possess, and use a radiological dispersal device; conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction; and distributing information with respect to a weapon of mass destruction. He faces at least 15 years in prison.
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