Jury: Glendon Crawford is guilty of death-ray plot to massacre Muslims

Jury spends 3 hours deciding fate of Klansman who plotted to execute Muslims with radiation

Albany Times-Union/August 21, 2015

By Robert Gavin

In less than three hours Friday, a jury found Glendon Scott Crawford guilty of planning to use a mobile radiation-spewing ray to silently massacre Muslims in the Capital Region — a conviction that could send the self-described Klansman to federal prison for the rest of his life.
Crawford, 51, who unwittingly allowed undercover FBI agents in on his scheme, became the first person to be convicted of trying to produce or use a radiological dispersal device, a 2004 federal law passed by Congress to protect the country against terrorists using a so-called "dirty bomb."

Crawford, of Providence in Saratoga County, a longtime mechanic at General Electric in Schenectady, showed no emotion as Chief Judge Gary Sharpe announced the verdict about 2:20 p.m.: Guilty on all three counts Crawford faced. The panel, which heard testimony starting Monday, started deliberating about 11:35 a.m.

He faces a mandatory minimum of 25 years on the dirty bomb-type charge alone and the distinct possibility of life in prison at his Dec. 15 sentencing. He was convicted of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and distributing information relating to weapons of mass destruction.

Crawford was found guilty one day after jurors saw he was captured on FBI surveillance video with Google maps of targets for his radiation weapon that included the Executive Mansion in Albany and the White House. The Klansman targeted Muslim institutions that included Masjid As Salaam on Central Avenue in Albany, Masjid e-Nabvi in Schenectady and the Islamic Center of the Capital District in Colonie, where Crawford, a married father of three children, hoped to target a school.

The defendant's wife, Angela, declined to comment to reporters outside the courthouse. Federal authorities were far more vocal.

"Glendon Scott Crawford was a terrorist who attempted to acquire a weapon of mass destruction and to use it to kill innocent members of the Muslim community," U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian told reporters in a post-verdict press briefing outside the courthouse on Broadway. He said a "potentially deadly and dangerous situation" was thwarted by alert members of the public coming forward and reporting Crawford's initial overtures to Albany police, which allowed the case to be investigated by the FBI.

"The plot was real here," FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Andrew Vale, who leads the bureau's Albany division, told reporters. "No matter how extraordinary the plot seemed, the threat was real. ... I'd like to continue to urge the community to come forward whenever they have information and allow the actual law enforcement experts to make that determination of whether there is an actual threat there or not."

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rick Belliss and Stephen Green, who prosecuted the case following a 14-month investigation, played more than seven hours of FBI surveillance video for the jury, much of it showing the defendant referring to Muslims as "medical waste" that he believed needed to be "sterilized" by the radiation weapon.

Kevin Luibrand, Crawford's attorney, said his client would appeal.

"The government had 60 CDs filled with undercover audio and video recordings that made it difficult to mount an effective defense," he told the Times Union.

In April 2012, Crawford approached Congregation Gates of Heaven, a synagogue in Schenectady, and the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York on Washington Avenue in Albany, talking about a plan to "help Jews get rid of their enemies." Crawford was trying to win financial support for his weapon, but instead became the focus of an investigation that included an informant named "Dan Matthews" posing as a white supremacist and an FBI undercover agent named "Jeff" acting as possible backer of the plot.

Crawford regularly met with the informant and the agent, often at Ming's Flavor Chinese restaurant in Scotia. He boasted he could hide the radiation weapon in a van marked as "Halal meat," a reference to food eaten by Muslims.

Crawford reviewed small tubes for a would-be weapon in a Schenectady hotel room, but was not satisfied. In late July 2012, Crawford called a Ku Klux Klan hotline to reach to Chris Barker, a North Carolina-based imperial wizard in the KKK. Barker, facing unrelated criminal charges, went to the FBI, who set a sting in motion.

Barker led Crawford to believe two undercover agents were Klan-connected rock quarry businessmen with the means to fund his weapon.

The agents, "Mark" and "Mike," met with Crawford on Oct. 4, 2012 in a Greensboro, N.C. hotel, where they agreed to support Crawford's plan and stay in regular contact with him. On Nov. 14, 2012, the agents met with Crawford in the now-shuttered J. Watts Barista House in Scotia, where Crawford introduced them to his "software guy" and future codefendant, Eric Feight, 56, of Columbia County. There, a paranoid Crawford, wary he was being watched by investigators, announced he would adopt the code name "Dmitri." Feight would be "Yoda," and the undercover agents "Daddy Warbucks" and "Robin Hood." The weapon became "the baby."

On June 18, 2013, Crawford met the agents in a warehouse in Schaghticoke where the "baby" was being kept. Crawford supplied them with a remote control radio to activate the device safely from a distance. The remote control had been put together by Feight, who by then had apparently dropped out of the plan.

That day, Crawford was arrested by a swarm of SWAT team officers at the warehouse. Feight, arrested at his home, pleaded guilty in January to providing material support to terrorists, which carries up to 15 years in prison.

In closing arguments, Luibrand urged the jury to judge Crawford on the law and not his race-filled opinions. He argued his client was wrongfully induced by the agents. Belliss told the jury to use common sense. Crawford's plan, he said, was to kill people.

"Mr. Crawford drove this investigation," Belliss said. "Mr. Crawford is the one who had the plan. Mr. Crawford is the one who had the hate. Mr. Crawford is the one who wanted to act on that hate."

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