Glendon Scott Crawford, 52, is a US Navy veteran and father of three who before his arrest worked as an industrial engineer at General Electric. Prosecutors claim that Crawford extensively researched RDD’s and had the knowledge necessary to construct one. An accomplice, Eric Feight, acquired an X-ray device that Crawford then was intending to modify, attach to a vehicle, and aim a lethal radiation beam at Muslim targets. Those afflicted would die of radiation poisoning within a few days.
The indictment reads that Crawford intended to kill "enemies of Israel" with his death ray. In April 2012 he called two different synagogues and offered his services to help them "defeat [Israel’s] enemies, specifically, by killing Israel's enemies while they slept." Both refused Crawford’s offer, and the second synagogue alerted the FBI to their conversation.
After a year of undercover investigation in which FBI agents posed as co-conspirators, Crawford and Feight were arrested in June 2013. The undercover agents claimed that Crawford called Muslims "medical waste" that needed to be "sterilized," and that President Barack Obama "sold us out to the Muslim world."
In 2015, Feight pled guilty to providing material support to terrorists, and was sentenced to eight years in prison. Crawford’s defense attorneys argued that he never built the weapon, and did not intend to do so. However, prosecutors claimed that Crawford had chosen several locations to attack, including the executive mansion in Albany, the Masjid As Salaam mosque on Central Avenue in Albany, the Masjid e-Nabvi Islamic Center in Schenectady, a school at the Islamic Center of the Capital District in Colonie, as well as the White House.
Crawford was found guilty. In their pre-sentencing recommendation, prosecutors Stephen Green and Richard Belliss wrote that Crawford’s actions were "driven by his intense hatred… for Muslims and other groups who he despised and blamed for ruining his country, and utter contempt for government that in his view not only let it happen, but made it happen. Crawford's intense hatred fueled his actions and plot, and never diminished or caused him to hesitate about killing other Americans. To the contrary. He reveled in it."
Green and Belliss called for a life sentence, while Crawford’s attorney Danielle Neroni asked for a sentence similar to the eight years received by Feight. The judge gave Crawford thirty years.
RDD weapons can come in many forms, one of which is the infamous dirty bomb. The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission describes a dirty bomb as a weapon "that combines conventional explosives, such as dynamite, with radioactive material." While it lacks the destructive power of a traditional explosive device, an RDD detonation would release tremendous amounts of radiation that "could create fear and panic, contaminate property, and require potentially costly cleanup."
After several scares in the early 2000s, including the arrest of would-be dirty-bomb detonator Jose Padilla in 2002, Congress passed a law in 2004 that harshly punishes anyone found guilty of attempting to acquire or use an RDD. Crawford is the first person to be sentenced under this law.
There are no instances of a successful dirty bomb attack, although there have been numerous scares in the United States and elsewhere.