Upstate New York Man Convicted for His Role in Attempting to Acquire a Lethal Radiation Device
ALBANY, NY—A jury convicted Glendon Scott Crawford, 51, of Galway, New York, today after a 5-day trial on all charges relating to his efforts to acquire a weapon of mass destruction, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian of the Northern District of New York, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, and Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Albany Division.
Crawford was convicted of attempting to acquire and use a radiological dispersal device (count 1), conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (count 2), and distributing information relating to weapons of mass destruction (count 3). He faces at least 25 years of imprisonment on count 1, up to life on counts 1 and 2, and up to 20 years of imprisonment on count 3. He also faces a $2 million fine on count 1 and a fine of $250,000 on both counts 2 and 3.
Crawford is scheduled to be sentenced on December 15 at 9 a.m. by the Honorable Gary L. Sharpe, Chief United States District Judge for the Northern District of New York.
Crawford is the first person to be found guilty of attempting to acquire a radiological dispersal device, a statute Congress passed in 2004.
“Glendon Scott Crawford is a terrorist who would have used a weapon of mass destruction to kill innocent members of our Muslim community were it not for the good judgment of citizens who quickly alerted law enforcement to his diabolical plan and the outstanding work of the Albany FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force,” said United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian. “This case illustrates how vigilance, the shared values of Americans of all faiths, and vigorous investigation can defeat dehumanizing bigotry and hatred.”
“Glendon Scott Crawford, a self-professed member of the Ku Klux Klan, was convicted of offenses relating to his deadly plan to use a radiological dispersal device to target unsuspecting Muslim Americans with lethal doses of radiation,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism, and we will continue to pursue justice against those who seek to perpetrate attacks on American soil.”
“Today’s verdict is a testament to the tremendous efforts of our Joint Terrorism Task Force in uncovering Crawford’s plot and the dedication of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in bringing justice to an individual who sought to inflict terror and harm on our innocent citizens,” said Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale. “This verdict is a victory for us all, but we must continue to remain observant; it is only with the assistance of our community members and law enforcement partners that we can be successful in thwarting these violent plots.”
In April 2012, the FBI received information that Crawford, who was employed as an industrial mechanic with General Electric in Schenectady, New York, had approached local Jewish organizations seeking people who might help him acquire a radiation-emitting device to be used against people whom he perceived to be enemies of Israel. During a 14-month investigation, the Albany FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force learned that Crawford was attempting to solicit funds to purchase, and then weaponize, a commercially-available industrial-grade X-ray device so that it could be used to injure or kill others by exposing them to lethal doses of radiation.
During the investigation, Crawford, with help from accomplice Eric J. Feight, took steps to design, acquire the parts for, build and test a remote initiation device that could have activated the radiation machine, and acquired (from an undercover FBI Agent) the X-ray device that he planned to modify into a weapon of mass destruction. The X-ray device that he planned to use had been modified so that Crawford could not have used it to hurt anyone.
Feight pleaded guilty on January 22, 2014 to providing material support to terrorists. He is scheduled to be sentenced on September 17, 2015 by Chief Judge Sharpe, and faces up to 15 years of imprisonment.
Crawford, a self-professed member of the Ku Klux Klan, wanted to use the device against Muslims, and he scouted mosques in Albany and Schenectady and an Islamic community center and school in Schenectady as possible targets. Crawford also suggested the Governor’s Mansion as a potential target.
With undercover agents, Crawford discussed placing the radiological device within a van or truck, parking the vehicle near the entrance to the target location, and then remotely activating the device so that it would direct lethal doses of radiation at people coming in and out of the target location.
A central feature of Crawford’s completed X-ray device was that its targets would be exposed to dangerous and lethal doses of X-ray radiation without being aware of the exposure, the harmful effects of which would likely not be immediately apparent.
This case was investigated by the Albany FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes FBI Special Agents as well as members of the New York State Police, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Albany Police Department, Troy Police Department, and New York City Police Department.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen Green and Richard Belliss of the Northern District of New York, who represented the United States during the trial, and Counterterrorism Section Trial Attorney Joseph Kaster with support from the National Security Division and Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington.