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American soldier sentenced to 25 years for supporting ISIS

Ikaika Erik KangViews from the Edge

Ikaika Erik Kang, 35, a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army , received a sentence of 240 months on three different terrorism related charges after authorities said he pledged his loyalty to ISIS and said he wanted to kill a “bunch of people.”

Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway accepted a plea agreement between the U.S. and Kang, in which Kang had agreed to serve 25 years of imprisonment and  20 years to life of supervised release. In imposing the sentence, Judge Mollway said that Kang’s conduct was “extremely serious” and “had the potential to be disastrous.”



“Kang swore to defend the United States as a member of our military, but betrayed his country by swearing allegiance to ISIS and attempting to provide it material support,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers. “With the sentence imposed today, he is being held accountable for his betrayal and his crimes.”

According to court documents and information presented in court, Kang became sympathetic to ISIS by at least early 2016. He regularly watched ISIS propaganda videos online, for as long as four to five hours a day, or more. Kang made numerous statements in support of ISIS and expressed a desire to join ISIS.

 He spoke approvingly and in detail about committing specific acts of violence against others, including by attacking large public gatherings, such as the Honolulu Christmas Parade, and a parade at Schofield Barracks. At the time Kang made these statements, he owned an AR-15-style assault rifle and a pistol, both of which he kept at his residence on Oahu.

Hawaii News Now reports Kang’s defense attorney believes the defendant suffers from a mental disorder.

“It would appear that Sgt. Kang, a decorated veteran of two deployments to the Middle East, may suffer from service-related mental health issues, which the government was aware of but neglected to treat,” Birney Bervar told Hawaii News Now.

Kang’s father said he had no idea his son had issues and said the two discussed his son’s conversion to the Muslim faith.

“There’s good teachings of the Muslim faith and the bad. And from time to time when he did live here, he would teach me the Koran. So I listened to him but other than teaching or learning that belief, there was no mention of him going astray,” said Clifford Kang.

The father is Catholic and said he had no issues with his son’s religion.

“He’s not real outgoing, he’s never been. But neither was I, I wasn’t too outgoing and kind of keep to myself. But other than that he’s a great kid, a normal kid who grew up in Waimanalo.”

In late June and early July of 2018, Kang met numerous times with undercover FBI agents who he believed had connections to ISIS. He provided them with sensitive, non-public military documents, some of which were classified at the SECRET level, which he intended that they later provide to ISIS. He also provided them with a commercially-purchased small aerial drone, a military chest rig, and other military-style clothing and gear.

Kang then met two additional undercover FBI personnel, one who purported to be a high-ranking ISIS leader, or “sheikh,” and another who played the role of an ISIS fighter. Kang led them in a two-hour, step-by-step military combative training session, in order to train the purported ISIS member in hand-to-hand fighting techniques and marksmanship.

Kang was given numerous chances by the undercover agents to return the classified military documents, and to stop and leave the training, which he did not do. Instead, on July 8, 2017, Kang swore an oath of loyalty, known as “bayat,” to ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a ceremony conducted by the purported ISIS sheikh. After the ceremony, Kang said that he wanted to get his rifle and go to downtown Honolulu and Waikiki strip and start shooting. Kang was subsequently arrested and taken into custody.
“This is the first case in the State of Hawaii where someone was convicted for providing material support to terrorism,” said Special Agent in Charge Kaul. “This should serve as reminder that even though we are 2,500 miles from the U.S. Mainland these crimes can and do happen everywhere.”
(additional reporting from AsAmNews)
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