A 55-year-old man thought he had procured a working X-ray device that could focus lethal levels of radiation on residents of an upstate New York community.
It's exactly the kind of horrific plot that might raise the alarm amid the heightened concern over terrorist attacks on the United States. But there's something notably different about this case -- Eric Feight is white, and his intended victims were Muslim-Americans.
Feight on Wednesday was sentenced to prison for 97 months -- more than eight years -- for providing material support to terrorists, according to the FBI. He would have gone through with the plot, but federal agents fooled him by posing as Ku Klux Klan members who promised to finance and obtain a "radiation device" that didn't actually work, the FBI said.
In a world where the mere mention of a plot by a jihadist gets wall-to-wall news coverage, and where fear of terrorism leads presidential candidates to call for a full ban on Muslim immigration, the New York state death ray plot received relatively little notice.
In January 2014, Feight pleaded guilty to helping klansman Glendon Crawford modify the X-ray machine, as well as another device which -- if it worked -- would remotely activate the X-ray machine on a truck. That rig was supposed to irradiate their victims, killing them days later. The device was never actually operable, the FBI said.
"Eric Feight aided Glendon Scott Crawford in altering a dispersal device to target unsuspecting Muslim Americans with lethal doses of radiation,” Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin said on Wednesday. “Feight and Crawford’s abominable plot to harm innocent Americans was thwarted thanks to the tireless efforts of law enforcement.”
The FBI called the device a "weapon of mass destruction" in August, though it appears to have softened its language since.
In June 2012, an undercover investigator brought Crawford X-ray tubes to examine for possible use in the weapon, and provided technical specifications a month later. At a meeting that November in an Albany coffee shop with undercover investigators, Crawford brought Feight. Both men committed to building the device and named the group "the guild," according to the indictment against them.
Investigators gave Feight $1,000 to build the remote control device and showed the men pictures of industrial X-ray machines they said they could obtain. They planned to provide him access to an actual X-ray system to assemble with the remote control in June 2013. According to court documents, the sealed indictment was filed the same day and both men were arrested.
Crawford was convicted in August and awaits sentencing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.