KANEOHE BAY — A Marine stationed in Hawaii deferred entering a plea Wednesday on allegations that he tried to bring weapons onto an Air Force base while home in Nebraska.
Pfc. Ali Al-kazahg was arraigned in a military courtroom at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, where the judge, Lt. Col. Wilbur Lee, scheduled trial for Jan. 24 to 31.
The arraignment was the first step in Al-kazahg’s general court-martial.
He 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.
The siblings’ last names are spelled differently because of a birth certificate mix-up, she said.
Nedhal Al-kazahy, who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, said Tuesday they’re not allowed to discuss his case when she calls her brother, who is confined in Hawaii.
The 22-year-old Marine was visiting Nebraska when guards stopped his pickup May 31 at Ouffutt Air Force Base after seeing his name on a law enforcement “be on the lookout” bulletin.
The Omaha World-Herald, which obtained the bulletin, reported Al-kazahg was listed because he allegedly told another Marine he would “shoot up the battalion, starting at the barracks,” if he were disciplined for certain misconduct. He also mentioned specific Marines he wanted to target, the newspaper reported.
He tried to enter the base with two semi-automatic rifles, a pistol, silencer, bump stock, vest with body armor and case of ammunition, the newspaper reported.
No details about the case were discussed at the arraignment.
Al-kazahg told Lee that he wants to be represented by the two Marine Corps defense attorneys who flanked him, Maj. Eric Winkofsky and Capt. James Larkin. Al-kazahg could have opted to hire civilian defense attorneys.
Larkin told Lee that Al-kazahg is deferring his plea.
Al-kazahg has yet to decide whether he wants to be tried by a judge or by a jury of military members.
Neither his attorneys nor Marine prosecutors were available to comment after the brief hearing.