US soldier who posted about killing Black people given top security pass

Investigation into Killian Ryan uncovers violent and racist remarks on social media and ties to white supremacist groups

A former paratrooper who allegedly enlisted in the army to become more proficient at killing Black people was given top security clearance despite ties to white supremacist organizations and Nazi ideology.

Killian Ryan was arrested on 26 August and charged with making a false statement on his army application for the secret security clearance, and then discharged on the same day for multiple drink-driving violations.

But the criminal investigation uncovered violent and racist remarks on multiple social media accounts, which had apparently eluded the agency which authorised his army credentials.

On one account, Ryan allegedly posted: “I serve for combat experience so I’m more proficient in killing n*****s.” Investigators found that Ryan registered some social media accounts with an email that included “naziace1488.”

FBI investigators found another account which had “been in contact with numerous accounts associated with racially motivated extremism”, according to reported court records. The account username referenced Sigurd – a figure in Norse mythology sometimes co-opted by white supremacists – and an email registered to the account referenced Nazi ideology.

The case raises further questions about the extent of racist extremism in the armed forces, and the apparent ease by which service members seem able to hoodwink security officials and processes.

At least 95 people charged in connection with the January 6 insurrection served in the US military, according to a CNN review of Pentagon and Department of Justice records. The defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, has made rooting out extremism in the military one of his top priorities.

At the time of his discharge, Ryan had been serving as a fire support specialist – a role which involves gathering intelligence and enemy target positions to support the army in deploying and firing artillery, according to Lt Col Terence Kelley, an army spokesman. He had not been deployed.

The job requires a secret security clearance. On his application for clearance in May 2020 Ryan allegedly said that he had not had contact with his father, who has felony convictions for drug violations and auto theft, for over a decade. In fact, they had been in touch over social media and in person, according to court records.

Contributor

Nina Lakhani in New York

The GuardianTramp

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