19 June 2013

Local mad scientist arrested

The local press reports that a federal investigation has resulted in the arrest of a Galway man who works for General Electric for "providing material support to terrorists." That material support consisted of a "weapon of mass destruction." To be specific, the suspect built a death ray -- in the FBI's words, "a radiation emitting device that could be placed in the back of a van to covertly emit ionizing radiation strong enough to bring about radiation sickness or death."

The terrorist angle is interesting. As the Albany paper reports, investigators first became aware of the suspect after he offered his invention to Israel, albeit in the unorthodox manner of walking into a local synagogue. The suspect's desire, at least initially, was to kill Muslims. It's not clear, however, whether this offer alone fit the description of "material support to terrorists." But someone at the synagogue obviously talked to the feds about the inventor's proposal, and the feds apparently decided that he shouldn't run around loose conducting experiments. It became necessary, apparently, to entrap him. This was done by having agents express interest in the suspect's device on behalf of the Ku Klux Klan. The suspect is supposedly a Klansman himself, which fact would make his apparent Zionist sympathies somewhat surprising. Since its reappearance in the early 20th century the Klan has usually taken an anti-semitic stance, but I'd suppose that Islamophobia is the higher priority now and the enemy of their enemy can be their friend, or at least the suspect's customer. Maybe he just assumed that Jews would have money to spend on his fancy. If we assume that the suspect is primarily an Islamophobe, and that his fake-Klan correspondents (how can you tell behind the hoods, after all?) proposed to use the weapon against Muslims rather than against the Klan's traditional foes, this story may prove that one way to criminalize militant Islamophobia is to link it with the Invisible Empire. What does it tell us, however, when putting on such a show was the only way to stop a rogue individual peddling a death ray? Why wouldn't the information provided by the Albany synagogue be enough for the FBI to swoop down on the suspect and his alleged collaborator, a control-device manufacturer? There are probably good technical reasons that law-enforcement experts can explain, but it still looks to me that linking the suspect to the Klan was just an easy way to make the man a bad guy when his intent to murder Muslims might not have done the job for many observers. It's most likely too early in the case to draw more definite morals from it, but this is definitely a story to keep an eye on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Did he actually have a working death ray? If so, shouldn't that have constituted the only charge necessary to arrest him? If the death ray is a piece of useless junk, then exposing the man as an idiot should be sufficient punishment.
National Security is only an excuse to eliminate ANYONE seen as opposition - even if that opposition is relatively impotent to begin with. Things are only bound to get worse.