According to the Department of Justice, Hawaii-based U.S. Army Sergeant Ikaika Erik Kang, 35, became radicalized by watching Islamic State group propaganda and training videos at least as early as 2016.
On Wednesday, Kang pleaded guilty in federal court to four counts of attempting to aid the Islamic State group.
During a year-long investigation by the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division, Kang was caught trying to provide sensitive and classified military materials and documents to undercover agents who Kang thought were Islamic State sympathizers.
He was arrested in July 2017.
“The documents included, among other things: classified air traffic control documents that describe call signs, aircraft types, route points, directives, mission procedures, and radio frequencies; the US military’s ‘weapons file,’ which describes all the armament capabilities of the US armed forces; details about a sensitive mobile airspace management system used by the US military; and documents containing personally identifiable information of US service members,” read a statement by the Justice Department.
He also provided the undercover agents with “a commercially purchased small aerial drone, a military chest rig, and other military-style clothing and gear,” according to the Justice Department.
During a fake ceremony created by the agents, Kang swore his allegiance to the Islamic State group and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The Army sergeant also met with two agents posing as a high-ranking Islamic State leader and a fighter within the group.
“Kang led the undercover agents in a hand-to-hand military combat session in order to train the supposed ISIS member in fighting techniques. The sessions were video recorded and Kang believed the video would be used to train other ISIS fighters,” CNN reported.
Kang had planned to eventually move to the Middle East and become an Islamic State member, according to court documents. He also allegedly planned to launch a suicide attack on his Schofield Barracks station in Hawaii.
An FBI affidavit released last year said Kang had told a Confidential Human Source that he had been researching torture methods on YouTube.
“Kang added that 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 said that if he ever saw him again, he would tie him down and pour Drano in his eyes,” the affidavit reads.
Kang reached a plea deal on Wednesday and will serve 25 years in prison followed by the possibility of a lifetime of supervised release.
“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 material support to the foreign terrorist organization,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers. “With today’s plea, he will be held accountable for his crimes.”
Special Agent in Charge Sean Kaul of the FBI’s Honolulu Field Office released a statement following Kang’s court appearance.
“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,” Kaul said. “This should serve as reminder that even though we are 2,500 miles from the US Mainland, these crimes can and do happen everywhere.”
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