Upstate New York Man Convicted for his Role in Attempting to Develop Lethal Radiation Device, targeting Arab and Muslim Americans in a case of increasing domestic terrorism and violence by White Americans provoked to hatred by strident racist rhetoric. American racist hate refocusing on Arabs and Muslims
By Ray Hanania
In the wake of warnings from the U.S. Government of extremist militias planning violence against American Muslims and American Arabs, a jury in New York convicted Glendon Scott Crawford, 51, of planning to build and detonate a radioactive device to murder Muslims.
In an ironic twist, Crawford was found guilty during a five-day trial on all counts of seeking to murder targets identified as “Muslim” because of his anger of Arab criticism of Israel. Identified as being a member of the Ku Klux Klan, which hates Jews as much as it hates Arabs and Muslims, Crawford was described as a fanatic acting on his own.
But leaders of the Arab and Muslim community believe that Crawford is the tip of an iceberg of domestic violence brewing in cities across America that are planning violence against Muslims and Arabs. (Read about rightwing militias planning attacks against American Arabs and Muslims.)
Much of the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hysteria is being fed by the extremist rhetoric of many of the individuals running for national office who are expressing racist political views, stereotyping Arabs and Muslims as being part of an international terrorist conspiracy against Americans. The battle to prevent the signing of a nuclear agreement with Iran has been focused on building up racist hatred of Arabs and Islamophobia against Muslims in an effort to build public support against the deal, negotiated by President Barack Obama.
A bulletin from the FBI recently cautioned that militias across the United States are planning violence against Muslims and Arabs.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian of the Northern District of New York and Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Albany, New York, Division made the announcement.
Crawford was convicted of attempting to produce and use a radiological dispersal device and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Crawford was also convicted of distributing information relating to weapons of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He also faces a $2 million fine on the attempting to produce and use a radiological dispersal device charge, and a fine of $250,000 on the other two charges.
Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 15, 2015, before Chief U.S. District Judge Gary L. Sharpe of the Northern District of New York.
Crawford is the first person to be found guilty of attempting to construct a radiological dispersal device, a statute Congress passed in 2004.
“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.”
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 develop technology 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 X-ray machine so that it could be used to injure or kill others by exposing them to lethal doses of radiation.
“Crawford is a terrorist motivated by bigotry and hate who would have used a weapon of mass destruction to kill innocent Muslim members of our 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 U.S. Attorney Hartunian.
“This case illustrates how we must remain vigilant to protect our community from would-be terrorists.”
During the investigation, Crawford, with help from co-conspirator 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 the X-ray machine 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.
“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 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.”
Feight pleaded guilty on Jan. 22, 2014, to providing material support to terrorists. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 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 New York 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. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Green and Richard Belliss of the Northern District of New York, and Trial Attorney Joseph Kaster of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. The Justice Department’s Criminal Division also provided assistance.
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.
"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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