Two upstate New York men, one of them said to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan, plotted to build a truck-mounted, industrial-strength X-ray weapon to kill “enemies of Israel” by poisoning them with radiation, federal authorities said Wednesday.
One of them boasted that he could build a “Hiroshima light switch” and that “everything with respiration would be dead by morning,” authorities said.
Investigators said the public was never in danger. The men scoped out Muslims and other groups as potential targets and apparently got as far as building a trigger for the device, but the FBI caught on, set up a sting and made sure the device didn’t work, the authorities said.
The men — Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, and Eric J. Feight, 54 — were charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
They appeared in court on Wednesday and a federal magistrate ordered that they remain in jail until a detention hearing on Thursday.
Neither of the men spoke during their appearance.
A criminal complaint said the men wanted to integrate the device into a mobile, industrial-grade X-ray system that could be turned on and off from a distance and could avoid detection.
Crawford, who authorities said made the boast about Hiroshima, is a member of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the KKK, the complaint said. He referred to Muslims as “medical waste,” the complaint said.
Federal authorities said they became aware of the plot and later began working undercover, after Crawford walked into a synagogue and asked for help with technology that could kill enemies of Israel while they slept.
The synagogue declined, and both the synagogue and another Jewish organization approached by Crawford told the FBI, the complaint said.
The plot began in April 2012, and the men sought parts for the weapon this spring, the complaint said. Crawford once traveled to North Carolina to ask for financing from a suspected KKK member, it said.
Crawford worked for General Electric, and Feight was an outside contractor for the company, the complaint said. Efforts to reach GE for comment were not immediately successful.
Information on their lawyers was not available.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.