A U.S. Army soldier stationed with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii has been arrested on charges of providing material support to the Islamic State, according to a statement provided by the FBI on Monday.
Ikaika Kang, 34, a Sergeant First Class and Air Traffic Control Specialist, was taken into custody by a FBI SWAT team while in the Schofield Barracks in Honolulu on Saturday, after being under surveillance for nearly a year, according to FBI officials.
According to local media reports, the Army referred Kang to the FBI in August of 2016 after a history of threatening remarks and “pro-ISIS statements” dating back to 2011. The Army’s concerns about Kang even resulted in his security clearance being suspended for a short time in 2012.
Kang, who had deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, is accused of conducting “military-style combat training” for a person whom he believed to be a member of ISIS. Kang, who reportedly attained the highest level as an Army Combatives Trainer and has competed professionally as a mixed martial arts fighter, had the training sessions videotaped “so they could be used by ISIS to train other fighters,” according to the affidavit.
The same document goes on to claim that Kang researched “the most effective and painful ways people had been tortured.” According to the FBI’s statement, “he was still angry at a civilian who had taken away his air traffic controller’s license, and that he wanted to torture him.”
Kang, whose surveillance included direct interactions with undercover FBI operatives, was reported to have said “the shooter did what he had to do and later said that America is the only terrorist organization in the world,” in regard to the mass shooting at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida. He also is quoted as saying “that Hitler was right, saying he believed in the mass killing of Jews.”
His confiscated computer contained 18 military documents labeled, “SECRET,” though two of them have since been declassified, and a search of his quarters found 13 issues of the al-Qaeda magazine “Inspire,” as well as over 500 documents pertaining to “ISIS or violence.”
According to Kang’s undercover contact, he had planned to travel to Turkey, where he understood there to be an ISIS consulate from which he could join the terrorist organization.
“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,” Kang said, according to the affidavit. “I’m just going to go there … and fight these guys who are committing genocide.”
Kang is also accused of purchasing a camera-equipped drone and telling the undercover agent that he intended to use it to help ISIS fighters evade U.S. tanks.
Authorities did not move in to make an arrest until, the FBI claimed, he swore a pledge of loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, and said he wanted to kill “a bunch of people.”
Kang appeared in federal court on Monday and was held pending a follow-on hearing that is scheduled for Thursday.
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