FBI arrests two men accused of plotting to kill Barack Obama 'with home-made X-ray weapon'
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Thursday 20 June 2013
Two men from upstate New York have been accused of hatching a bizarre plot to kill President Barack Obama and others they saw as “enemies of Israel” using a home-made X-ray weapon.
The FBI, which arrested Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, and Eric J Feight, 54, on Tuesday, claims Mr Crawford had designed a machine that he believed could fire a fatal dose of radiation at his intended targets while remaining undetected. The victims would not suffer the ill effects of the attack until hours or even days afterwards. According to court documents, Mr Crawford described his deadly creation as “Hiroshima on a light switch”, claiming, “Everything with respiration would be dead by the morning.”
The suspects reportedly met one another while working at General Electric in Schenectady, New York, where Mr Crawford was employed as an industrial mechanic. He recruited Mr Feight, an outside GE contractor with engineering expertise, who agreed to design a remote control for the device, which they planned to detonate from afar. The two men intended to hide their weapon in a lorry, and power it using the vehicle’s cigarette lighter. FBI officials said it would have been “functional” and “lethal” had the plot not been foiled.
Investigator Geoffrey Kent said that Mr Crawford had “specifically identified Muslims and several other individuals/groups as targets”. He also wanted to kill President Obama, blaming him for the recent bombing attack at the Boston Marathon. “Obama’s policies caused this,” Mr Crawford allegedly wrote in a text message sent on 15 April, the day of the Boston bombings.
In an email exchange monitored by the FBI, Mr Crawford described the President as “your treasoness bedwetting maggot in chief”, criticising him for “bringing the muzzies here without background checks.”
According to an FBI affidavit, the investigation into Mr Crawford began in early 2012, shortly after he approached Jewish leaders at a synagogue in Albany, New York, to discuss killing “Israel’s enemies while they slept”.
The synagogue swiftly informed police. In August 2012, Mr Crawford travelled to North Carolina to request funding for his plan from a top official in the Ku Klux Klan, of which he claimed to be a member. The KKK informed the FBI, which sent two undercover agents posing as KKK members to meet Mr Crawford.
In November, the undercover investigators met Mr Crawford and Mr Feight at a café in Albany, where Mr Feight explained his commitment to the group, which the two of them had christened “the Guild”. “I started seeing how things, the direction things were going... after the elections,” Mr Feight allegedly said. “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
The agents gave Mr Feight $1,000 to make the remote control, and showed the suspects plans for industrial X-ray machines that might have been suitable for their proposed device. The group was due to meet again this week. Instead, Mr Crawford and Mr Feight were arrested. They appeared in court on Wednesday, charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, namely through the use of a weapon of mass destruction.
They each face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.
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