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Ex-soldier said he enlisted in the Army to become 'more proficient in killing' Black people, authorities allege

Spc. Killian Ryan, who is federally charged with lying on his application for a security clearance, has had online ties with "accounts associated with racially motivated extremism," prosecutors said.
Fort Bragg, N.C., on Jan. 4, 2020.
Fort Bragg, N.C., on Jan. 4, 2020.Chris Seward / AP file

A former soldier who is federally charged with lying in his application for a security clearance said he enlisted in the Army so he’d be “more proficient in killing” Black people, prosecutors allege.

Killian M. Ryan, who was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, held the rank of specialist and served in the Army until Aug. 26, a spokesperson with the XVIII Airborne Corps said in a statement Thursday.

Ryan “was separated from the Army for serious misconduct,” the statement said.

An affidavit filed Aug. 25 in U.S. District Court for Eastern North Carolina alleges that Ryan had online ties to people whose social media accounts were “associated with racially motivated extremism.”

The affidavit, written by a Fayetteville police officer on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, also alleges that Ryan posted his motivation for joining the Army on an Instagram account. "I serve for combat experience so I'm more proficient in killing n------," he is alleged to have said. Ryan also had five Instagram accounts in which he communicated with extremists who were motivated by racial animus, the affidavit said.

The Airborne Corps spokesperson said that the FBI informed the Army that Ryan was under investigation earlier this year and that the Army cooperated in his arrest on Aug. 26.

“The U.S. Army does not tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks. The Army prohibits military personnel from participating in extremist organizations and activities. There is no place for extremism in the Army.”

Efforts to reach Ryan and lawyers listed in his federal case were unsuccessful Thursday.

In April 2021, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered new steps to tackle the threat posed by extremism in the ranks of the military, including updated screening questionnaires for recruits, a review of the department’s definition of extremism and efforts to prevent veterans from being drawn into violent movements.

The move followed a 60-day stand-down across the armed services that Austin ordered to allow commanders and troops in every unit to discuss how to confront white supremacy or other extreme ideologies in the military.

Ryan served as a fire support specialist and with the 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery and the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, according to the Airborne Corps. Ryan was never deployed, officials said.

According to the affidavit, Ryan began active duty on May 27, 2020, almost two weeks after he submitted a form for a security clearance. In the clearance form, the affidavit said, Ryan said he had not had contact with his father, Richard Matthew Dillard, in more than 10 years. Dillard, the affidavit said, is a convicted felon with a criminal history involving drugs and auto thefts.

Federal prosecutors said Dillard posted a picture with his son in June 2019 at Ryan’s high school graduation. Prosecutors alleged Ryan had five Instagram accounts in which he communicated with his father in 2019 and 2020. For one of those accounts, Ryan is alleged to have used the email address to sign up, the affidavit said.

Dillard and a federal prosecutor listed in court documents were not available for comment.