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Feds: Jewish groups key in foiling alleged death ray plot

Updated: 06/20/2013 12:01 AM
Created: 06/19/2013 11:20 PM WNYT.com
By: Steve Flamisch

ALBANY -- Local Jewish organizations were instrumental in exposing the alleged plot by two men to kill Muslims and other people with lethal doses of radiation, federal prosecutors said.

Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, of Galway, and Eric K. Feight, 54, of Hudson, conceived "a mobile, remotely operated, radiation emitting device capable of killing targeted individuals silently with lethal doses of X-ray radiation," federal prosecutors said. They are charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, prosecutors said.

The alleged scheme came to light in April 2012 when a man believed to be Crawford walked into Congregation Gates of Heaven on Ashmore Ave. in Schenectady, Rabbi Matt Cutler said. The man was articulate, well-dressed, and told the staff he had a "gift" to protect the Jewish people.

"He was talking about... a weapon that would really eliminate people that he perceived were against Jews and Israel," Cutler said.

Staff members told the man they were not interested in the weapon, and suggested he go to the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York on Washington Ave. Extension in Albany, Cutler said. After the man left the temple, the staff called the police in the hope officers would intercept him.

The man called the Federation instead of showing up at the door, Shelly Shapiro, the Federation's community relations director said.

"He said the same kinds of things: that he had a weapon to protect the community," Shapiro said. The Federation also notified the authorities.

The calls from both Congregation Gates of Heaven and the Federation brought about the 14-month investigation that led to the arrests announced Wednesday, federal prosecutors said. Crawford and Feight are facing up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Imam Djafer Sebkhaoui of Al-Hidaya Center in Troy told NewsChannel 13 he was disturbed to learn the men allegedly intended to target Muslims, but he said he was relieved to learn of the arrests.

"This is sad to hear," he said, "but I'm happy authorities were able to abort this." 

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