A member of the Ku Klux Klan in New York has been sentenced for creating a "diabolical plan" to kill Muslims and President Obama with a homemade death ray. In a statement, the Department of Justice's Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord explained that the white supremacist "planned to use a radiological dispersal device to target unsuspecting Muslim Americans with lethal doses of radiation."
Glendon Scott Crawford, a 52-year-old man from Galway, New York, was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Monday and lifetime supervised release. While his sentence was imposed this week, a jury voted to convict Crawford in 2015 "on all charges of a 3-count indictment: attempting to produce and use a radiological dispersal device, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and distributing information relating to weapons of mass destruction," according to the Department of Justice. Crawford is the first person to be found guilty of the "dirty bomb" statute that Congress passed in 2004, which deals with attempting to acquire and/or use a radiological dispersal device.
A terrorism plot in and of itself is troubling, but the details of Crawford's case are especially distressing.
According to the evidence presented at his trial, Crawford, a self-proclaimed member of the Ku Klux Klan, reached out to local Jewish organizations to raise funds for his plan—getting a weapon of mass destruction to kill people he called "enemies of Israel." Court records show that Crawford also referred to Muslims as "medical waste" who need to be "sterilized," according to the Albany Times-Union.
Crawford drove all the way from near Albany, New York down to North Carolina to "directly solicit funding for his plan from senior members of the Ku Klux Klan," according to the DOJ. The former industrial mechanic hoped to get "an industrial-grade x-ray radiation device" and modify it in a way to "to cause death or injury by exposing people to lethal doses of ionizing radiation."
NBC New York reports "the device was intended to be a truck-mounted radiation particle weapon that could be remotely controlled and capable of silently aiming a lethal beam of radioactivity at its human targets." Crawford also described the device as "Hiroshima on a light switch." Crawford said that, if the weapon were used, "everything with respiration would be dead by the morning." According to the Albany Times-Union, he added at one point, "What could be sweeter than a big stack of smelly bodies?" Crawford was also recorded telling undercover FBI agents that "after you get done cleansing our lands, we’ve got some pretty thick scum to take care of," according to TWC News.
In texts sent in 2013, according to the Washington Post, Crawford ranted about "muslim scum," saying "they don't have to follow any laws." He also said it's Obama's fault because "his administration has done more to enable a government sponsored invasion than the press can cover up," He added, "Get the word out that obamas [sic] policies caused this." Crawford said he believed that President Obama "sold us out to the Muslim world" and that he "should be hung for treason."
Crawford made efforts to achieve his evil goal. Undercover FBI Special Agents, posing as businessmen connected to the KKK, gave Crawford a radiation dispersal device (the FBI had already "rendered it safe" when they handed it to him). Hoping to use what he thought was a deadly weapon, Crawford scouted places to attack Muslim Americans, including mosques in Albany and Schenectady, New York, as well as an Islamic community center and school in Schenectady. Crawford also considered targeting the White House or the New York Governor's Mansion in Albany. He was helped by Eric J. Feight, who was sentenced last year to more than eight years in prison for providing material support to terrorists.
Why did Crawford do it? Before going off on America's immigration policy regarding Muslims, Crawford told U.S. District Judge Gary L. Sharpe, "I feared for my nation's and my children's nation's future." According to the Associated Press, the judge had to cut Crawford off during his Islamophobic rant. "This conduct is bizarre," Sharpe said. "You are bizarre. Everything I heard on the tapes is bizarre."
Crawford said that friends described him as a cross between Darth Vader and Forrest Gump. He took that as a compliment, according to the Albany Times-Union, but his friends meant that he was "a mix between a mass murderer on a galactic scale and a famous simpleton."
"This case shows both the dangers we face from extremist views, and our resolve to stop those who plan to act on those views," U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian said in a statement. "Crawford planned to kill Muslims on account of their religion and other people whose political and social beliefs he disagreed with, including government officials."