HONOLULU—A soldier based in Hawaii who is accused of pledging allegiance to the ISIS terrorist group and fixating on videos of beheadings and suicide bombings planned to plead guilty Aug. 29 to attempting to support the terrorist group.
Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang is set to plead guilty as charged in an indictment last year, defense attorney Birney Bervar said. He is agreeing to a 25-year sentence for charges that could have put him in prison for life.
Kang met with undercover agents he believed were part of ISIS, prosecutors said. He is accused of providing them with classified military information, a drone, military equipment and training in combat fighting.
When Kang met with the undercover agents he thought were from ISIS at a home in Honolulu, he pledged allegiance to the group and kissed an ISIS flag, according to court documents.
Kang was obsessed with videos depicting terrorism beheadings, suicide bombings and other violence, and he watched them in his bedroom for hours every day, 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 ISIS 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.
Kang watched the violent videos for four to five hours each day during the week and more on the weekends, the informant told agents in 2016. The informant “remembered feeling sick to his stomach, while Kang laughed and insulted the victims,” the affidavit said.
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 paycheck,” the informant said, according to the affidavit.
Agents said in their applications for a tracking device that they needed to monitor him continuously because they feared he would carry out an attack.
Officials with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade told the FBI they were concerned about their ability to monitor Kang, noting that he was to return from leave on May 25, 2017—the same day as a change-of-command ceremony, the affidavit said.
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. Bervar has previously said his client may suffer from service-related mental health issues that the government was aware of but neglected to treat.
By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher