A U.S. soldier has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for swearing allegiance to the Islamic State and plotting a terrorist attack in Honolulu, Hawaii. Sergeant First Class Ikaika Erik Kang began his ISIS indoctrination in the early months of 2016. The process included repetitive watching of ISIS propaganda videos. He also watched multiple videos with ISIS’ brutal execution techniques, to include beheadings, burning alive, and throwing people off rooftops. Thereafter, Kang posted numerous messages online indicating his support for the terrorist organisation, his desire to join its ranks, and to commit acts of violence on its behalf. Upon discovering Kang’s plans, the authorities placed the solider under constant close physical surveillance. Kang possessed an AR-15 rifle and a pistol, and so posed a threat to his neighbours and colleagues.
In July 2018, Kang provided undercover FBI agents, who he thought were ISIS recruiters, with classified documents. The documents, went as far up as the SECRET level — including air traffic control containing call signs, aircraft types, mission procedures, radio frequencies, armament capabilities, information on a sensitive mobile airspace management program, and personal information of U.S. service members.
He then bought a small drone and gave it, along with military gear and clothing, to the undercover FBI agents. He also provided combatives training to the agents, which was video recorded with the intention to instruct future ISIS fighters. Finally, Kang gave an oath of loyalty to ISIS and its shadowy leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and got ready to conduct a terrorist attack in downtown Honolulu. At that moment, the FBI agents arrested him.
Assistant Attorney General John Demers said, “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.”
Because Kang had pleaded guilty to numerous counts — more importantly, he admitted to supplying ISIS with material support and confidential information — he received only 25 years behind bars. Furthermore, he will get from 20 years to a lifetime of supervised release thereafter.
Sean Kaul, the FBI Special Agent in charge of the investigation, said, “This is the first case in the State of Hawaii where someone was convicted of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. 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.”
The lengthy investigation and prosecution effort involved numerous federal and local agencies, to include the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Army, the Navy’s Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), the Honolulu Police Department, and the FBI.