HONOLULU (AP) — A Marine stationed in Hawaii pleaded guilty to possession unlawful firearms during a military court hearing Tuesday for allegations he tried to bring weapons onto an Air Force base while home in Nebraska.
Ali Al-kazahg's sentence includes a bad conduct discharge, reduction in rank from private first class to private and three years of confinement, said Capt. Eric Abrams, a Marine Corps spokesman. Al-kazahg will receive credit for 288 days he has already served.
Al-kazahg, 22, was visiting Nebraska, where he grew up, when guards stopped his pickup May 31 at an Offutt Air Force Base gate after seeing his name on a law enforcement "be on the lookout" bulletin.
He also pleaded guilty to making false official statements and fraudulent enlistment. When he enlisted, he withheld information about his past, including a previous arrest, suspension from school and being fired from a job, Abrams said. The false statements stem from “purposefully misleading government officials” in his chain of command and at Offutt, Abrams said.
Al-kazahg waived a preliminary hearing in August and a military officer recommended that there should be a court-martial for charges including carrying a concealed weapon, possessing modified firearms, making threats and fraudulent enlistment.
The Michigan-born, Nebraska-raised son of Iraqi refugees is the target of racism, his sister, Nedhal Al-kazahy, said previously. She said military authorities overreacted when her brother went to the base to work out while his personal weapons were in his truck.
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The siblings’ last names are spelled differently because of a birth certificate mix-up, she said.
She said Tuesday from Lincoln, Nebraska, that her brother was treated unfairly. “No matter what you do in life if you are a person of color it’s always going to be 10 times harder for you,” she said. “You have to work 10 times harder than the person who is white."
The Marine Corps said in a statement that an investigation found the accusations of discrimination were not substantiated.
“The Marine Corps does not tolerate racism or bullying and expects all Marines to act in a professional manner, maintain an atmosphere of dignity and respect, and ensure an environment free from discrimination, harassment, and assault,” the statement said.
Nedhal Al-kazahy called her brother's sentence upsetting. “He worked so hard to be where he is in the military,” she said.