An X-ray weapon designed to kill from a distance was at the center of a bizarre plot unveiled on Tuesday. The FBI arraigned two upstate New York men on Tuesday as a result of a long term investigation sparked when Albany New York resident Glendon Scott Crawford allegedly walked into a synagogue in April 2012 seeking money to design a device that he claimed would kill enemies of Israel.
The synagogue tipped off the authorities.
Crawford, 48, and an associate, 54-year-old Eric J. Feight, attempted to build a portable X-ray weapon that they could transport in their van.
According to an ABC report, the FBI believes that Crawford is a member of the white supremacy group Ku Klux Klan (KKK). He allegedly approached a high-ranking official in that organization for funding.
The KKK also notified the FBI. Two FBI members posed as KKK members and were able to gain Crawford’s confidence in order to learn more about the strange plot. The undercover agents provided some assistance in finding materials and funding, allowing them to see how far the men would try to go with the plot.
Crawford and Feight planned to meet to put the final pieces together on Tuesday but were instead arrested by the Albany FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. The device was never completed, and the public was not at risk.
Both Crawford and Feight have been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists through the use of a weapon of mass destruction. The FBI said that Crawford boasted to the KKK that the X-ray weapon was “Hiroshima on a light switch.”
John Duncan, executive assistant US attorney for the Northern District of New York, told CNN that the x-ray weapon was “designed to turn on remotely from some distance away” to emit a lethal dose of radiation that would kill a victim as he slept.
People “subject to this X-ray radiation would not immediately know that they had been harmed until some days later when they would either be injured, or it could result in their death,” Duncan said.
While the FBI has said only that Crawford planned to harm a political figure, the ABC report identified the target as Obama.
The men do have some engineering training. However, there’s some skepticism about whether or not the device could have worked.
A San Francisco Chronicle report said that radiation safety experts from two universities stated that the device would have required prolonged exposure and probably wouldn’t have worked.
The US representative on the UN’s Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, Dr. Fred Mettler, was quoted in Newsmax as saying he hadn’t yet seen the specifics of Crawford’s plan but he too was skeptical.
“I don’t know of any of these [x-ray weapons] that you can use like a gun to aim at someone on the street,” he said.
Both Crawford and Feight appeared separately in court Wednesday for their arraignment.
They could face up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of the charges related to the x-ray weapon conspiracy.
[President Obama photo courtesy White House photographer Chuck Kennedy via Wikipedia]