HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — In a first for the islands, a former Schofield Barracks soldier was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years behind bars for attempting to help the Islamic State terrorist group.
Judge Susan Oki Mollway handed down the sentencing to Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang, who also got 20 years of supervised release under a plea deal that allowed him to avoid a life sentence.
Addressing the court Tuesday, Kang said, “I know what I did was wrong. I admit to doing it. If released, I’ll never do it again.”
Kang, who grew up in Waimanalo and enlisted in the Army after graduating from Kaiser High in 2001, was arrested last year.
During an undercover investigation, Kang met with federal agents he believed were terrorists and pledged his loyalty to ISIS.
He also kissed an Islamic State flag and “expressed an intent” to commit a shooting in Waikiki or Downtown Honolulu.
“This is the first case in the state of Hawaii where someone was convicted for providing material support to terrorism,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Kaul, in a news release.
“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.
According to federal prosecutors, Kang tried to provide material support to the Islamic State terrorist group, including classified military information, a drone, military equipment and combat fighting training.
Kang pleaded guilty in August to four counts of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
He agreed when Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson described other support he provided to undercover agents.
By at least early 2016, Kang became sympathetic to the group, Sorenson said. The FBI gathered information from sources he knew, worked with or lived with when it began an investigation in August 2016, Sorenson said.
Kang provided voluminous, digital documents that included sensitive information including the U.S. military's weapons file, details about a sensitive mobile airspace management system, various military manuals and documents containing personal information about U.S. service members, Sorenson said.
Trained as an air traffic controller with a secret security clearance, Kang also provided documents including call signs, mission procedures and radio frequencies, Sorenson said.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court shortly after his arrest said an FBI forensic review of Kang's computer found hundreds of items that referenced ISIS and violence.
Prosecutors say it also painted a portrait of a troubled man with a history of making violent statements.
Authorities confirm the Army reprimanded Kang several times for "threatening to hurt or kill other service members, and for arguing pro-ISIS views while at work and on-post."
Kang deployed to Iraq in 2010 and served in Afghanistan in 2014.
Family members have suggested he may have PTSD, and lawyers have raised concerns about entrapment, but one of his defense attorneys told Hawaii News Now that Kang has accepted responsibility.
“He clearly had a history of issues and he was treated quite superficially by the military,” said defense attorney Birney Brevar. “As I said a year and a half ago, I think they should have put him back in mental health treatment but instead they started an investigation of him.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.