Hawaii soldier remains in federal custody, accused of trying to help ISIS

FBI: Hawaii soldier with ties to ISIS threatened to kill 'a bunch of people'
Published: Jul. 10, 2017 at 2:29 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 11, 2017 at 8:04 AM HST
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(Image: Family)
(Image: Family)
Clifford Kang, Ikaika Kang's father, says he's shocked to hear about the allegations against...
Clifford Kang, Ikaika Kang's father, says he's shocked to hear about the allegations against his son. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Honolulu FBI Special Agent in Charge Paul D. Delacourt said Kang was a "lone actor." (Image:...
Honolulu FBI Special Agent in Charge Paul D. Delacourt said Kang was a "lone actor." (Image: Hawaii News Now)
The FBI sealed off the apartment door of a Hawaii soldier who's accused of having ties to ISIS....
The FBI sealed off the apartment door of a Hawaii soldier who's accused of having ties to ISIS. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An active duty Hawaii soldier remains in federal custody after he was arrested for allegedly trying to provide material support and training to the Islamic State group.

A criminal complaint alleges that Ikaika Erik Kang, 34, was arrested at his Waipahu apartment Saturday, shortly after pledging his loyalty to ISIS and telling an undercover federal agent that he wanted to kill "a bunch of people."

"A probable cause arrest was made in the interest of public safety," Honolulu FBI Special Agent in Charge Paul D. Delacourt said Monday, after Kang's first appearance in federal court.

He added, "We believe that Kang was a lone actor and was not associated with others who present a threat to Hawaii."

Delacourt said Kang's arrest came after an investigation that lasted for more than a year, and involved multiple agencies.

Kang, who has two registered firearms and extensive combat training, is assigned to the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks.

The criminal complaint says that he "attempted to provide material support to ISIS by providing both classified military documents, and other sensitive but unclassified military documents, to persons he believed would pass the documents to ISIS."

FBI officials said no classified materials actually ended up in the hands of the terrorist group.

But the complaint also alleges that Kang expressed interest in fighting overseas for ISIS, and offered an undercover agent purporting to be a member of the group training and other support.

Defense attorney Birney Bervar said Monday that he had limited contact with Kang before the hearing, but described him as cooperative.

"It would appear that Sgt. Kang, a decorated veteran of two deployments to the Middle East, may suffer from service-related mental health issues, which the government was aware of but neglected to treat," he told Hawaii News Now.

'I'm just in shock'

Kang, a 2001 graduate of Kaiser High School, enlisted in the Army in December 2001, just months after the 9/11 attacks.

His father, Clifford, said he's shocked by the allegations against his son.

"I'm just in shock. He's a great kid. He's not real outgoing, he's never been, but neither was I," Kang told Hawaii News Now. "But other than that, he's a great kid, a normal kid who grew up in Waimanalo."

His father also believes his son may be suffering from PTSD from his tours overseas.

Ikaika Kang was deployed to Iraq in 2010, and served in Afghanistan in 2014, according to his military service record.

He also was a recipient of the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. He worked as an air traffic control operator with the Army.

FBI: Kang wanted to fight for ISIS

The criminal complaint filed in federal court Monday said an FBI forensic review of Kang's computer found classified military documents and hundreds of items that referenced ISIS and violence.

Kang allegedly told an undercover FBI agent that he wanted to travel overseas to fight for ISIS.

"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 told the undercover agent, according to the complaint. "I'm just going to go there ... and fight these guys who are committing genocide."

Kang allegedly swore a pledge of loyalty to ISIS on Saturday with an undercover agent.

Additionally, the FBI said, Kang contributed to the purchase of a drone that he thought would be used by ISIS. And he allegedly offered training to an undercover agent who purported to be a member of the terrorist group.

'He had no filter'

The federal complaint against Kang paints a portrait of a troubled man with a history of making violent statements.

Authorities said that 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."

In 2012, his security clearance was revoked because of his behavior, but it was reinstated the following year.

Chris Sanders, who was deployed with Kang in Iraq from 2010 to 2011, said he recalls the soldier having frequent outbursts. At one point, Sanders said, Kang threatened his platoon sergeant.

"It's almost like he had no filter. he would just say -- literally -- whatever was on his mind and it's like he couldn't recognize that it made other people feel uncomfortable," Sanders said.

"When we got near the end of our deployment, me and a couple of my buddies who were over there, we were actually all talking and were like man, this guy is gonna be on the news one day."

But Sanders also said that he thought Kang was kind of a "harmless dude."

"I never thought it would get to this level," he said.

It was last year that authorities saw a growing number of red flags surrounding Kang, who they believed was becoming radicalized. In August 2016, the Army referred the case to the FBI.

The federal complaint says Kang was far from closeted about his support for ISIS.

In March, Kang told an FBI source that he'd been doing research on "the most effective and painful ways people had been tortured."

The federal complaint continues: "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."

Also that month, the source told the FBI, Kang appeared to sympathized with the gunman in the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting, the worst terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11. Kang allegedly said the Pulse shooter "did what he had to do."

And, the source said, Kang told him that "Hitler was right, saying he believed in the mass killing of Jews," the complaint alleges.

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