A soldier based in Hawaii pleaded guilty to trying to help the Islamic State group by providing military information and a reconnaissance drone.
Ikaika Kang reportedly swore allegiance to ISIL in Arabic and English and kissed an Islamic State flag.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant also known as ISIL and ISIS that is considered a Salafi jihadist militant group and unrecognized proto-state that follows a fundamentalist, Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam. It gained global prominence in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq offensive, followed by its capture of Mosul and the Sinjar massacre.
This group has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations and many individual countries. ISIL is widely known for its videos of beheadings of both soldiers and civilians, including journalists and aid workers, and its destruction of cultural heritage sites.
In 2014 ISIS took over large parts of the city of Mosul and emerged as a prominent militant group in the world. It was in the Great Mosque of al-Nuri where ISIS’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first and only public appearance and declared a “caliphate”.
The United States provided key air support and intelligence to Iraqi ground forces battling ISIL fighters. The US was scheduled to leave Iraq in 2011, but the breaking out of the Civil war in 2014 prompted the Washington to re-deploy combat support troops in Iraq without having boots on the ground.
Read more on our extensive analysis of the fall of ISIS here.
Sergeant, 1st Class Ikaika Kang has admitted to providing classified and unclassified information to ISIL operatives during his deployment.
He agreed when Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson described other support he provided to undercover agents Kang believed were part of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS. Kang provided voluminous, digital documents that included sensitive information including a U.S. military weapons file and various military manuals.
Trained as an air traffic controller, Kang also provided documents including call signs, mission procedures and radio frequencies, all of which would have been helpful to ISIS.
At one of the meetings with Federal agents, Kang was believed to be a part of the Islamic State, he swore allegiance to the group in Arabic and English and kissed an Islamic State flag.
Kang was obsessed with videos depicting terrorism beheadings, suicide bombings and other violence, and he watched them in his bedroom for hours daily, a confidential informant told agents. The agents put a tracking device on the soldier’s car during an investigation that led to the indictment.
Kang told the informant that if he became an Islamic State member, he would be a suicide bomber and attack Schofield Barracks, a sprawling Army base outside Honolulu, according to an affidavit filed in the case.
The U.S. government first asked a judge to allow a tracking device to be placed on Kang’s car in October 2016 and applied for several extensions after orders granting it expired.
During the first week of September 2016, Kang told the informant “that if he were to do something like shoot up a large gathering, it would be out of his hatred for white people, the wicked and non-Muslims,” the affidavit said.
Kang began researching Islam in 2014, couldn’t wait to move to the Middle East to “join the cause” and was “only in the military for a pay-check,” the informant said, according to the affidavit.
Federal Agents considered him a threat to the US homeland as they feared he may carry out an attack soon. Brigade personnel feared the large gathering “represented a target of opportunity for Kang should he want to harm members of the unit.”
Kang has been held without bail since his July 2017 arrest.
Our assessment is that the court will not show him any leniency during his sentencing hearing. His actions may have resulted in tangible and intangible damage to the United States and its troops in Iraq. We feel that the Magistrate court in Honolulu will look to impose charges of conspiring to commit treason against the United States, a federal crime.