It sounds like something out of a science-fiction movie: authorities foil a plot by two individuals to kill people with an x-ray gun that could be secretly fired from a moving van...
Jailed until a detention hearing set for today are 49-year-old Glendon Scott Crawford, of Galway, and 54-year-old Eric Feight, from near Hudson. They have been charged with conspiracy to provide support to terrorists with a portable X-ray weapon designed to be used on those perceived as opponents of Israel. According to the criminal complaint, Crawford contacted two Jewish organizations in April 2012 for help funding technology that could be used by Israel to kill enemies while they slept. At some point, the FBI became aware of the plan. The agency declined comment, citing "the ongoing investigation."
Crawford was employed at the General Electric plant in Schenectady: GE spokesman Shaun Wiggins says the company is cooperating with investigators. Reports indicate another GE employee may be involved. Feight was employed by a local automotive company often contracted by GE. Investigators say Crawford was in contact with the Ku Klux Klan and went to the Congregation Gates of Heaven synagogue in Schenectday and approached Rabbi Matthew Cutler, offering access to the weapon.
For many, the arrests of two local men on terrorism-related charges calls to mind the arrests of Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain, two Muslim men from the Capital District who were caught up in a complex U.S. government operation that resulted in their arrests in 2004 on terrorism-related charges. They were subsequently convicted and sent off to prison. In 2010, Albany Common Council Member Dom Calsolaro wrote President Barack Obama about the case. The X-ray death machine arrests are stimulating debate over government-led "sting" operations. Conservative candidate for Albany Mayor Joe Sullivan says he is troubled whenever terrorist plots make headlines. Rabbi Cutler says he trusts in the American government, society and way of life.
Shelly Shapiro, director of Community Relations at the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, says the lesson is one of security. Homeland Security did not return a call for comment in time for broadcast. The U.S. Attorney's office told the media there could be more arrests in the case.
Crawford and Feight face up to 15 years in prison and a fine of a $250,000 if convicted.