Crawford was sentenced Monday to 30 years in federal prison for plotting to build an industrial X-ray machine that would spew lethal doses of radiation powerful enough to kill people from a distance. His plan, according to a federal complaint, was to place the machine inside a truck or a van, park the vehicle outside Muslim institutions and activate it remotely. The goal was for his targets to be dead long before they realize they’d been exposed to the rays.
“The conduct is bizarre. You are bizarre,” U.S. District Court Senior Judge Gary Sharpe told Crawford during his sentencing hearing in federal court in Albany, N.Y., according to the Albany Times-Union.
Crawford, a 52-year-old industrial mechanic, also will be on a lifetime supervised release.
He was convicted by a jury after a five-day trial in August 2015, becoming the first person to be found guilty of attempting to acquire and use a radiological dispersal device. The crime violates the “dirty bomb” statute passed by Congress in 2004, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of New York.
The Galway, N.Y., resident was charged after a 14-month FBI undercover investigation that began in April 2012 when authorities received a tip that Crawford, a self-professed member of the Ku Klux Klan, approached two Jewish organizations to seek financing for his plan. Crawford sought people who might help him acquire a radiation-emitting device for use against those whom he perceived to be enemies of Israel, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Someone from the Jewish institutions then alerted federal authorities, unknown to Crawford, who spent the following year designing, buying parts for, building and testing his device.
He scouted mosques in Albany and Schenectady, N.Y., and considered the governor’s mansion and an Islamic community center and school as possible targets, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
From August 2012 to June 2013, Crawford was unwittingly talking to and working with undercover law enforcement officers. He enlisted the help of a KKK leader who was cooperating with investigators the entire time, court records say.
He also sought the help of Eric Feight, who pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists and was sentenced in December 2015 to more than eight years in federal prison.
During conversations, Crawford described his device, made from “off the shelf” technology, as “Hiroshima on a light switch.”
“Everything with respiration would be dead by the morning,” he said, according to court records. “How much sweeter could there be than a big stack of smelly bodies?”
He referred to Muslims as “medical waste.” He also repeatedly talked about developing “assets” and used code names for himself and Feight, according to court records. Crawford was Dmitri and Feight was Yoda.
During a conversation in January 2013, after the November 2012 reelection of President Obama, Crawford said he’s “in this for my kids.” He has three children, according to the Albany Times-Union.
“I don’t want money. . . . You know what, after this election, the electoral process is dead,” he said. “So now, all that is left is to make the m———— pay.”
In a text message sent in April 2013, Crawford went on a tirade about Obama’s policies and the media.
“Your background was scrutinized more to join the army than any muslim scum gets to come here. They don’t have to follow any laws, and this administration has done more to enable a government sponsored invasion than the press can cover up,” he said. “Be pissed, but get the word out that obamas [sic] policies caused this. You watch, they will downplay the Muslim angle if they don’t cover it up. Be pissed. I am too. I been warning this was coming. Its [sic] here.”
After Crawford was convicted last year, U.S. attorney Richard S. Hartunian called him a “terrorist” and his plan “diabolical.”
“This case shows both the dangers we face from extremist views, and our resolve to stop those who plan to act on those views. Crawford planned to kill Muslims on account of their religion and other people whose political and social beliefs he disagreed with, including government officials,” Hartunian said in a statement issued after Crawford’s sentencing hearing.