ALBANY, N.Y. — Federal authorities accused two upstate New York men Wednesday of assembling a portable X-ray weapon that they intended to use to secretly sicken opponents of Israel.
The indictment charged Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, of Galway, and Eric Feight, 54, of Hudson, with conspiracy to provide support to terrorists with the weapon.
Investigators said Crawford approached Jewish organizations last year looking for funding and people to help him with technology that could be used to surreptitiously deliver damaging or lethal doses of radiation against those he considered enemies of Israel. He and Feight assembled the mobile device, which was to be controlled remotely, but it was inoperable and no one was hurt, authorities said.
“Crawford has specifically identified Muslims and several other individuals/groups as targets,” investigator Geoffrey Kent said in a court affidavit. According to the indictment, Crawford also traveled to North Carolina in October to solicit money for the weapon from a ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan, who informed the FBI. Crawford claimed to be a member.
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The men appeared separately Wednesday in federal court in handcuffs and jail jumpsuits. Magistrate Christian Hummel ordered them detained until Thursday. The two could face up to 15 years in prison.
The investigation by the FBI in Albany and police agencies began in April 2012 after authorities were told Crawford had approached the Jewish organizations.
Crawford, an industrial mechanic for General Electric in Schenectady, knew Feight, an outside GE contractor, through work, authorities said. Feight designed, built and tested the remote control, which they planned to use to operate an industrial X-ray system mounted on a truck.
According to the indictment, the investigators had an undercover source in place within weeks after learning of Crawford’s attempts to solicit money and later an undercover investigator introduced by the source.
GE spokesman Shaun Wiggins said the company had suspended Crawford.
Dr. Fred Mettler, the U.S. representative on the United Nations’ Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, was unfamiliar with the specifics of Crawford’s plans but said it’s unlikely such a device could work.