One of the FBI's methods of fighting terrorism in America is to have undercover agents or informants recruit Muslims for fake terror groups, give them ideas for fake terror plots, and in some cases, arm them with fake terrorist weapons. For those troubled by these methods, perhaps it will be some comfort to know the FBI also recruits white guys as terrorists. Glendon Scott Crawford has been charged with trying to create a mobile radiation death ray to sell to Jewish groups and the Ku Klux Klan, according to a federal complaint unsealed on Wednesday. The device was supposed to be mounted on a truck, and a remote control could silently beam radiation at Muslims, either killing them or giving them radiation sickness. Pretty scary right? Until you read a little bit further down the Albany Times-Union story and see Crawford couldn't actually build this device.
Crawford never actually obtained a radiation source. During the past year, the complaint indicates he was dealing with an undercover FBI agent pretending to be a supplier of radiation equipment, such as x-ray tubes used in construction projects or medical devices. At one point, the undercover agent sent an email to Crawford showing different x-ray systems that could be supplied.
So the FBI gave Crawford ideas for how to be a terrorist. In April 2012, Crawford used his cellphone to call two synagogues and "asked to speak with a person who might be willing to help him with a type of technology that could be used by Israel to defeat its enemies, specifically, by killing Israel's enemies while they slept." They did not take him up on his offer. In June 2012, Crawford spoke to an FBI informant about wanting to take action against his enemies.
During the meeting at the restaurant, Crawford described his plan to purchase or construct a powerful industrial x-ray machine that would be powered by batteries. The plan included an attempt by Crawford to find part-time work in a metal shop where he would have access to x-ray tubes, the complaint states.
Crawford was an industrial mechanic for GE, and his alleged co-conspirator, Eric J. Feight, worked for an electronics company. Nevertheless, their goals do not sound plausible. "Crawford described the device's capabilities as 'Hiroshima on a light switch' and that 'everything with respiration would be dead by the morning.'"
If the allegations are true, then Crawford is morally guilty. But entrapment laws are supposed to protect immoral idiots who do not have the means or power to actually carry out nefarious plots. Since September 11, though, the FBI has been prosecuting a lot more immoral idiots. One was Hemant Lakhani, who bragged to an FBI informant that he could smuggle an anti-aircraft missile (and a submarine!), and in 2003, when an FBI informant got impatient after two years of procrastination, the FBI smuggled a fake missile for him. More recently, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi was sentenced for trying to send weapons and money to al Qaeda. At his January 2013 sentencing hearing, his lawyer noted that Hammadi "was unemployed and had no money, weapons or means of transporting them when he was recruited by a confidential government informant," USA Today reported. The weapons Hammadi said he'd smuggle included a Stinger missile, which made his minimum sentence 25 years -- which, according to Hammadi's lawyer, was the "only reason this weapon was introduced by the government into the scheme."
In his book The Terror Factory, Trevor Aaronson reports that of the more than 500 terrorism prosecutions since 9/11, almost half involved paid informants. Last fall, Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating noted -- after a Bangladeshi man was arrested for conspiring to blow up the Fed -- "This is going to raise more questions about the degree to which law enforcement agents are actually the ones concocting these plots by Muslim immigrants who did not, actually, have any connection to al Qaeda." At least we know the FBI is not only going after Muslim idiots anymore.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.