New York mechanic, 51, convicted in plot to target Muslims with X-ray weapon
Published: 22:05 GMT, 21 August 2015 | Updated: 14:06 GMT, 22 August 2015
A New York white supremacist was convicted by a federal jury on Friday of plotting to use a remote-controlled radiation device he called “Hiroshima on a light switch” to harm Muslims and President Barack Obama.
Jurors deliberated for two hours before finding Glendon Scott Crawford guilty of attempting to produce a deadly radiological device, conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and distributing information about weapons of mass destruction.
Crawford, an industrial mechanic at General Electric in Schenectady, could face 25 years to life in prison. Sentencing is set for Dec. 15 at the federal court in Albany.
Crawford, 51, wearing a gray suit and eyeglasses, showed no emotion as Judge Gary Sharpe read the verdict
Convicted: Glendon Scott Crawford, seen in June 2013, was convicted Friday of plotting to kill Muslims with a mobile X-ray device by a jury that rejected his lawyer’s argument that he was entrapped by the FBI
Weapon: Crawford’s alleged plot involved remotely firing a death ray that would kill victims with radiation poisoning weeks later, a plot officials say may have worked
Defense attorney Kevin Luibrand said they’ll file a notice of appeal after the sentencing.
“They had 60 hours of undercover materials, which made it very difficult to mount an effective defense,” he said.
The 51-year-old Crawford has been jailed since his arrest two years ago.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Belliss said investigators began tracking Crawford in 2012 after he approached two local Jewish groups with his technological idea for how they could defeat their enemies. They also learned Crawford sought support for the device in 2013 from a Ku Klux Klan grand wizard in North Carolina, who was an FBI informant. That was something the agents and undercover investigators didn’t initially know about, he said.
“Mr. Crawford hated Muslims and other politically liberal people,” Belliss told the jurors. He replayed earlier Friday the first secretly taped conversation of Crawford with another FBI informant in which Crawford said, “I think Islam is an opportunist infection of DNA” and “Radiation poisoning is a beautiful thing.”
According to the prosecutor, Crawford’s tireless pursuit of the plan drove the investigation. The evidence showed he was “cold, calculated” and “committed.” He was not “cartoonish” or “a goofy simpleton,” as the defense suggested, the prosecutor said.
In one videotape, when asked about the best viable local targets, Crawford mentioned an Albany storefront mosque and the New York governor’s mansion.
Crawford, an industrial mechanic at General Electric in Schenectady, could face 25 years to life in prison
Crawford’s co-defendant, Eric Feight (seen in a file photo), has pleaded guilty to supporting terrorists by building a remote control for the machine.
In the trial’s closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Belliss said the scheme was “very real, very viable and very deadly.”
Crawford, 51, is a Ku Klux Klan member from Galway. The KKK is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an American hate group.
Summing up the five-day trial, Belliss played videotapes in which Crawford said he planned for decades to create the device and unleash it on his enemies - Muslims and the White House. Belliss said one target was “a certain liberal politician” who Crawford said was in the White House.
Defense lawyer Kevin Luibrand told jurors that Crawford had been entrapped by the government, and he blamed undercover Federal Bureau of Investigations agents for creating the device.
In his closing argument, Luibrand said if “Crawford is guilty of anything, it is proliferating information” but said the government was responsible for creating what the media dubbed the “death ray” machine.
Crawford went to North Carolina to discuss funding his project with Chris Barker, KKK Imperial Wizard of the Loyal White Knights, who turned out to be cooperating with the FBI.
Belliss held up a glass-enclosed metal “X-ray tube” that he said was similar to the device, saying it was proof that Crawford did “more than hand out pamphlets.”
Luibrand also played several video clips of meetings between two undercover FBI agents and Crawford, who admitted he did not have the technical knowledge to make or operate such a device.
“The government is not allowed to encourage someone to commit a crime,” Luibrand said.
Luibrand said federal agents and their informants kept making contact with Crawford over the 13-month investigation and they eventually provided an X-ray device that never worked. His client, a Navy veteran and family man, had no criminal history, he said.
“A government agent got the radiological device,” Luibrand said. “The government produced it, ordered it, paid for it.”