A Jan. 24 general court-martial trial date has been set for a 22-year-old Hawaii-based Marine who was stopped at Offutt Air Force Base in his home state of Nebraska trying to bring in firearms, a silencer, body armor and ammunition, according to officials and news reports.
His sister previously disputed the charges, saying he loved the Marines but he was set up and discriminated against and harassed by other Marines in Hawaii because of his Middle Eastern name.
Pfc. Ali J. Al-Kazahg, with Combat Logistics Battalion 3, was apprehended by Air Force Military Police at Offutt on May 31.
Al-Kazahg is charged with carrying a concealed weapon, communicating threats, possession of modified firearms and unlawful firearms modifications, unauthorized absence, fraudulent enlistment, making a false official statement, violation of a lawful general regulation and dereliction of duty, the Marine Corps said.
The Marine was arraigned on the charges today in a Marine Corps Base Hawaii courtroom before Lt. Col. Wilbur Lee acting as judge. Al-Kazahg’s military lawyers, Maj. Eric Winkofsky and Capt. James Larkin, said he was deferring a plea until a later date. Al-Kazahg answered “Yes sir” and “No sir” to Lee’s questions.
Al-Kazahg waived his right to an Article 32 preliminary hearing on Aug. 21 to examine the charges. Brig. Gen. Keith Reventlow, commander of the 3rd Marine Logistics Group in Okinawa, Japan, referred the same charges to court-martial that Al-Kazahg was preliminarily charged with, officials said.
Al-Kazahg remains in confinement at Naval Brig Pearl Harbor on Ford Island.
The Marine’s sister, Nedhal Al-Kazahy, previously said in a phone interview that her brother “had zero intentions of ever hurting anybody because that was not him at all.”
The siblings have slightly different last names because of a mistake on her brother’s birth certificate, the 21-year-old sister said.
The Marine was stopped at the Offutt base gate after a “be on the lookout” bulletin was issued a week earlier, according to The (Omaha) World-Herald.
The bulletin stated that Al-Kazahg had told another Marine that he would “shoot up the battalion, starting at the barracks” if he received discipline for unspecified misconduct, the newspaper said.
Al-Kazahg had previously made “suspicious statements” and placed an online order for body armor, ammunition magazines, firearm parts, holsters and medical supplies to be shipped to a Nebraska address, The World-Herald quoted the Naval Criminal Investigative Service as saying in the bulletin.
“My brother, yeah, he likes guns, he likes that stuff. He has permits for all that stuff. He goes to a shooting range,” said his sister, who lives in Lincoln, Neb.
Al-Kazahg, who was on leave back home, “is a bit of a showoff,” his sister said. “I don’t know for sure why he had that stuff with him,” but he had been hanging out with friends, including other Marines, “and I know they were showing off everything that they had on Snapchat.”
He had been going to Offutt to use the gym when he was stopped, she said. In Hawaii, meanwhile, he had been the victim of discrimination and harassment, she said.
“He had been getting harassed because of course his name is a Middle Eastern name,” she said. “But my brother is actually a Christian. He’s not a Muslim, but the other Marines were harassing him for that.”
In one case, other Marines threw raw bacon on his bunk, “because it’s a known thing we (Muslims) don’t eat pork,” she said.
Their parents were Iraqi refugees, and the family is Muslim, but the siblings received much of their upbringing in foster care and her brother converted to Christianity, she said.
Al-Kazahy said she thinks her brother tried to report the harassment, but it was ignored. She said he did have approval to go home, but that he may not have “checked out” correctly.
NCIS transported Al-Kazahg back to Hawaii. He joined the Marine Corps in 2017 and has been stationed at Kaneohe Bay since 2018.