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US soldier gets 25 years in prison after pledging loyalty to ISIS

U.S. Courthouse, El Paso, Texas. (Carol Highsmith/Library of Congress)
December 06, 2018

An Army soldier based in Hawaii who pleaded guilty in August to attempting to provide material support to ISIS was sentenced on Tuesday to 25 years in prison.

Ikaika Erik Kang, 35, a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army, admitted that he provided ISIS with classified military documents and a drone, according to the Justice Department.

Kang told Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway, “Your honor, I know what I did was wrong. When I’m released, I won’t do it again.”

“Kang was sentenced to 240 months on Counts 2, 3 and 4 to run concurrently, and 60 months on Count 1, to run consecutively, for a total of 300 months in prison,” the DOJ statement said.

When released, Kang will be subjected to 20 years of supervised release.

At sentencing, Judge Mollway told Kang that his conduct was “extremely serious” and “had the potential to be disastrous.”

She said that Kang was granted “a number of chances to return the classified information and leave the training, but [he] didn’t do that.”

“You had a distinguished career in the United States Army. And you had access and training that would have been valuable to the people associated with ISIS,” Mollway said, Stars and Stripes reported.

Court documents stated Kang became compassionate to ISIS in 2016.

He consumed ISIS propaganda videos online for hours every day that included beheadings, suicide bombings, and child soldiers.

Kang stated his support of ISIS and said he wanted to join the terror organization. He openly expressed his desire to commit violence in the name of ISIS at events like the Honolulu Christmas Parade, as well as a parade at Schofield Barracks.

While Kang was making these declarations, he possessed both a pistol and an AR-15 rifle which were stored at his Oahu home.

In the summer of 2018, Kang had several meetings with undercover FBI agents, who he believed with individuals connected to ISIS.

Kang was trained as an air traffic controller who possessed a secret security clearance, enabling him to obtain “sensitive, non-public military documents, some of which were classified at the SECRET level,” which he passed on to ISIS.

He also gave them “a commercially-purchased small aerial drone, a military chest rig, and other military-style clothing and gear.”

Kang then met two other undercover FBI personnel, one of which he believed was a high-ranking ISIS leader, or “sheikh,” and another who was portrayed as an ISIS fighter and gave them a two-hour, step-by-step military combat training session demonstrating hand-to-hand fighting maneuvers and marksmanship.

On July 8, 2017, Kang conducted a loyalty oath ceremony known as “bayat” to the terror group and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

After the ceremony, Kang expressed that he wanted to retrieve his rifle to commit a mass shooting in downtown Honolulu and the Waikiki strip.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii Kenji M. Price, and Special Agent in Charge Sean L. Kaul of the FBI’s Honolulu Field Office announced the sentence on Tuesday.

“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. With the sentence imposed today, he is being held accountable for his betrayal and his crimes.  I want to thank all of the agents, analysts and prosecutors who are responsible for this case,” Assistant Attorney General Demers said.

U.S. Attorney Kenji Price said, “Defending our country from terrorism is a core mission of the Department of Justice. Today’s sentence is the result of the hard work and dedication of all of the federal agents and prosecutors who work tirelessly every day to keep our community safe.”

“This is the first case in the State of Hawaii where someone was convicted for providing material support to terrorism. 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.  I would like to personally thank the United States Attorney’s Office, the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, the United States Army, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Honolulu Police Department, and the entire Joint Terrorism Task Force Community here in Hawaii for bringing this investigation to a successful conclusion.  Today, our community is a safer place due to their tireless efforts,” Special Agent in Charge Kaul said.