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Editor’s Note: This article reports on allegations against Ikaika Erik Kang by the US government. The defendant is entitled to a presumption of innocence unless proven guilty in a court of law.
- An active-duty Army soldier was arrested Saturday on terrorism charges after an undercover FBI investigation found that the suspect allegedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), provided “material support” to the terrorist group, and attempted to provide ISIS with military documents.
- On Monday, the FBI identified the suspect as Ikaika Erik Kang, 34, an active-duty solider stationed as an air traffic controller at Wheeler Army Airfield in Oahu, Hawaii.
#FBI SAC Paul Delacourt announced the arrest of Ikaika Kang, an active duty soldier based in Hawaii, on terrorism charges.
— FBI Honolulu (@FBIHonolulu) July 11, 2017
- Kang’s arrest followed a year-long, joint investigation by the FBI and US Army.
- The investigation culminated at a Honolulu home where Kang allegedly pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the presence of an undercover agent. Kang believed the undercover agent was a member of the Islamic State, according to an affidavit filed Monday in federal district court by FBI Special Agent Jimmy Chen.
- Kang allegedly told the undercover agent that he wanted to use his rifle to “kill a bunch of people” (page 22).
- Kang was deployed to Iraq from March 2010 to February 2011 and to Afghanistan from July 2013 to April 2014, according to the affidavit (pg. 4).
- Kang’s father told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that his son began studying the Islamic faith during his more recent deployment.
- According to Reuters, Kang entered no plea at his court appearance Monday.
- Kang will remain in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Thursday.
- According to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Jimmy Chen, Kang “attempted to provide material support to ISIS by providing both classified military documents, and other sensitive but unclassified military documents, to persons he believed would pass the documents to ISIS” (page 5).
- The FBI also accused Kang of trying to provide “material support” to ISIS “by conducting expert military-style combatives training to a person who purported to be a member of ISIS.”
- According to Chen, “At Kang’s suggestion, the sessions were videotaped so they could be used by ISIS to train other fighters.”
- Kang was radicalized around 2016, according to the affidavit.
- The Army reported this information to the FBI “in or about August 2016,” but Kang allegedly made threatening statements as far back as 2011 (pg. 6). The affidavit states:
“[Kang] was reprimanded on several occasions for threatening to hurt or kill other service members, and for arguing pro-ISIS views while at work and on-post.”
- The Army responded to Kang’s statements by revoking his security clearance in 2012, though his clearance was “reinstated the following year after Kang complied with military requirements stemming from the investigation.”
- The FBI conducted a court-authorized search of Kang’s lodging at Ft. Rucker in November 2016.
- The search allegedly revealed Kang had 18 military documents on a computer hard drive — 16 of those documents remain classified (pg. 8).
- The hard drive also allegedly contained “approximately 486 documents that referenced ISIS, ISIL, or violence” and “approximately 1221 video files that referenced ISIS, ISIL, or violence.”
- Paul Delacourt, the FBI special agent in charge of the Hawaii bureau, told reporters that none of the documents reached the Islamic State, and that he believes Kang is a “lone actor.”
- In November 2016, Kang allegedly expressed, to an undercover FBI agent at Ft. Rucker, his desire to fly to Turkey and possibly join ISIS. According to the affidavit, Kang told the undercover agent (pg. 9):
“People still say it’s illegal to join them, but the way I look at it is they’re just fighting people who are committing genocide there… I’m just going to go there… and fight these guys who are committing genocide.”
- In March 2017, a confidential source told the FBI that Kang had been researching torture methods on YouTube and had threatened to “tie down and pour Drano” in the eyes of a civilian responsible for taking away his air traffic controller’s license (pg. 6).
- Last month, Kang allegedly helped purchase a drone that he believed would be taken to the Islamic State allowing ISIS fighters “to view the battlefield from above to find tank positions and avenues for escape” (pg. 21).
- Kang’s father, Clifford Kang, told Hawaii News Now:
“I listened to him, but other than teaching or learning that belief, there was no mention of him going astray.”
- His father told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:
“Nobody told me anything. This is the first time I heard about [it]… I’m kind of stunned to tell you the truth… I never heard of him being with ISIS.”
- According to the New York Times, the office manager of Kang’s condominium complex, Pua Edayan, described Kang as “a quiet person.” She added that, “He gave me no trouble.”
Emily Priddy contributed to this report.