ALBANY, New York — A White Supremacist was sentenced to 30 years in prison for a bizarre plot to kill Muslims and President Obama using a “death ray” that could unleash lethal doses of radiation.
Glendon Scott Crawford, 52, a Navy veteran and a self-professed member of the Ku Klux Klan, was convicted in 2015, making him the first person in the U.S to be found guilty of attempting to acquire and use a radiological dispersal device as a “dirty bomb.”
“His plot to murder people he did not know was designed to, in his oft-repeated words, ‘take his country back’ from government leaders by forcing them to change government conduct he perceived as favoring Muslims,” prosecutors wrote in a pre-sentencing filing.
Prosecutors said Crawford, who worked as an industrial mechanic at General Electric Co in Schenectady, N.Y., carried out extensive research on radiation dispersal devices and conducted reconnaissance on potential targets, including several mosques in Upstate New York.
Evidence presented at trial showed that Crawford in April 2012 approached local Jewish organizations seeking financial support for his plan to acquire the device to be used against people he described as being “enemies of Israel.” Authorities were alerted to Crawford’s plot by members of a synagogue he had approached.
That same month, Crawford drove to North Carolina to solicit support from the Ku Klux Klan, prosecutors said.
In conversations recorded by an informant, Crawford spoke passionately of his hatred of Muslims and said he would go after Obama in the White House with the device.
Prosecutors said Crawford had intended to acquire and modify an industrial-grade x-ray radiation device so it would be able to unleash lethal doses of radiation.
With help from co-conspirator Eric Feight, Crawford designed, acquire parts for, and had begun building a remote-control unit that would emit lethal radiation from a distance. Feight pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists and was sentenced to 97-months in prison.
Crawford eventually tried to acquire a radiation dispersal device from people he believed were Klan-friendly businessmen, but were actually FBI agents working undercover. Crawford said he specifically wanted to use the device against Muslims, and scouted out mosques and an Islamic community center and school. Other possible targets included the White House and the New York Governor’s Mansion in Albany.
Crawford’s lawyers had argued that their client only moved to build the device at the instigation of undercover federal agents and that he never actually intended to use it. They say they plan to appeal the sentence.