U.S. sol­dier jailed in ISIS-sup­port case

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS - AUDREY MCAVOY AND LOLITA C. BALDOR

HONOLULU — An ac­tive­duty U. S. sol­dier has been ar­rested on ter­ror­ism charges that ac­cuse him of pledg­ing al­le­giance to the Is­lamic State ex­trem­ist group and say­ing he wanted to “kill a bunch of peo­ple.”

The FBI took Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang into cus­tody over the week­end in a Honolulu sub­urb af­ter a year­long in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­volv­ing mul­ti­ple un­der­cover of­fi­cers and con­fi­den­tial in­for­mants. The 34- year- old from Hawaii made an ini­tial ap­pear­ance Mon­day in fed­eral court.

Kang’s court- ap­pointed de­fense at­tor­ney, Bir­ney Ber­var, said it ap­pears his client may suf­fer from ser­vice-re­lated men­tal health is­sues of which the gov­ern­ment was aware but ne­glected to treat. Ber­var de­clined to elab­o­rate.

He said Kang was “a dec­o­rated vet­eran of two de­ploy­ments” to Iraq and Afghanistan.

A 26-page af­fi­davit from FBI agent Jimmy Chen filed in court Mon­day de­tailed how Kang thought he was deal­ing with peo­ple work­ing for Is­lamic State but who were ac­tu­ally un­der­cover agents.

Paul Dela­court, the FBI agent in charge of the Hawaii bu­reau, told re­porters that the FBI be­lieved Kang was a lone ac­tor and was not af­fil­i­ated with any­one who poses a threat.

On Satur­day, agents ar­rested him af­ter he pledged loy­alty to Is­lamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Bagh­dadi and said he wanted to “take his ri­fle, his mag­a­zines and kill ‘a bunch of peo­ple.’”

Kang and the agents to­gether made com­bat train­ing videos he be­lieved would be taken to the Mid­dle East to help pre­pare the group’s sol­diers to fight Amer­i­can forces, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit. Kang had re­ceived the high­est level of com­bat train­ing avail­able in the Army and was a mixed mar­tial arts en­thu­si­ast.

Also Satur­day, Kang and an un­der­cover agent went shop­ping for a drone to give to Is­lamic State fight­ers, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit.

Kang said the drone would al­low the fight­ers to view the bat­tle­field from above “to find tank po­si­tions and av­enues for es­cape” from U.S. sol­diers, the af­fi­davit said. He used his debit card to pay nearly $1,400 for the drone, a Go-Pro cam­era and re­lated equip­ment. The agent paid him $700 to split the cost.

A trained air traf­fic con­troller based at Hawaii’s Wheeler Army Air­field, Kang had his mil­i­tary clear­ance re­voked in 2012 for mak­ing pro-Is­lamic State com­ments while at work and on-post and threat­en­ing to hurt or kill fel­low ser­vice mem­bers.

His clear­ance was re­in­stated a year later af­ter he com­pleted mil­i­tary re­quire­ments.

How­ever, the af­fi­davit said, the Army be­lieved Kang was be­com­ing rad­i­cal­ized in 2016 and asked the FBI to in­ves­ti­gate.

Kang’s fa­ther told Honolulu tele­vi­sion sta­tion KHON and the Star-Ad­ver­tiser news­pa­per that his son may have had post- trau­matic stress dis­or­der. Kang told the news­pa­per that he be­came con­cerned af­ter his son’s re­turn from Afghanistan. He said his son was with­drawn.

Kang has two firearms reg­is­tered in his name, an AR-15style ri­fle and a hand­gun. Af­ter the shoot­ing last sum­mer at a gay night­club in Or­lando, Fla., he told a con­fi­den­tial source that the shooter “did what he had to do” and later said that Amer­ica is the only ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion in the world, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit.

The doc­u­ment al­leges he also later told the same source that “Hitler was right” and that he be­lieved in the mass killing of Jews.

He told the source that he was an­gry at a civil­ian who had taken away his air traf­fic con­troller’s li­cense and that he wanted to tor­ture him, the af­fi­davit said.

“Kang said that if he ever saw him again, he would tie him down and pour Drano in his eyes,” the af­fi­davit said.

He en­listed in the Army in De­cem­ber 2001, just months af­ter the Sept. 11 at­tacks. He served in South Korea from 2002 to 2003. He de­ployed to Iraq from March 2010 to Fe­bru­ary 2011 and Afghanistan from July 2013 to April 2014.

Kang was sched­uled to ap­pear in court Thurs­day for a de­ten­tion hear­ing.

Red tape with the word “ev­i­dence” on it cov­ered part of the door to Kang’s apart­ment in the Honolulu sub­urb of Waipahu.

Dee Asun­cion, a real es­tate agent who rep­re­sented Kang when he bought his home less than a year ago, said he came across as a “very re­spect­ful guy.” She said he was “on the shy, quiet side.”

But look­ing back, she said, there was one con­ver­sa­tion that seemed strange to her. He talked about hav­ing re­spect for the ide­ol­ogy of Is­lamic ter­ror­ist groups.

“I feel bad for him that he went down that road,” Asun­cion said.

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Jen­nifer Sinco Kelle­her of The Associated Press.

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