The Times Union reports that an upstate New York industrial mechanic for General Electric named Glendon Scott Crawford has been charged with attempting to sell a weapon of mass destruction to a terrorist group, which is to say the KKK.
The WMD in question is alleged to have been a radiation cannon that would direct ionized radiation in order to give radiation sickness or kill outright human beings. The weapon was supposed to have been based on an industrial scale X-Ray machine and would have been remotely triggered.
McGill notes that there are a number of commercial products that use directed radiation, including X-Ray machines and electron microscopes. None are designed to give a lethal dose and there are a number of safety procedures for their use.
Crawford first approached the congregation of a Jewish synagogue in Albany and offered them the weapon, with the idea that they would in turn sell it to the State of Israel for the purpose of killing Muslims in their sleep. He also attempted to contact an Albany Jewish organization with the same offer.
Frustrated with his attempt to sell his idea to Jews, Crawford turned toward the Ku Klux Klan. Fortunately one of the Jews Crawford contacted had passed the information along to the police which in turn contacted the FBI. The man Crawford met was actually an FBI informant. After an investigation that lasted several weeks, Crawford and an accomplice, Eric J. Freight, were arrested.
The capabilities of the alleged radiation cannon are unknown, except that it would be remotely triggered and that it was, in Crawford’s words, “Hiroshima on a light switch” that would kill everyone with a respiration by the morning. Since the device was never actually built or tested, it is unknown whether it would actually have been a viable weapon of mass destruction. There is no information about what the range would be or the area of effect.
While the device that Crawford envisioned may have been a product of a fevered imagination, weapons that use pure radiation to do their work have existed. During the Cold War, the United States built and briefly deployed a weapon called the neutron bomb that would explode and emit a great deal of neutron and gamma radiation over a wide area. The radiation, unlike that of a conventional nuclear weapon, would be short lived but enough to kill everyone in its area of effect. It was designed to kill Warsaw Pact tank crews during an armored invasion of Western Europe without harming the surrounding countryside or cities. The weapon was withdrawn after the end of the Cold War.