Why Did Ikaika Kang Join ISIS? He Allegedly Passed Along Sensitive Military Information
After a yearlong investigation, federal authorities this weekend arrested Ikaika Kang on terrorism charges linked to ISIS. According to authorities, Kang pledged allegiance to the extremist Islamic group and said he wanted to "kill a bunch of people," though the people he was in contact with, whom he reportedly thought were ISIS supporters, were in fact undercover federal agents.
Kang, who was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, is a decorated servicemen, according to his court-appointed lawyer Birney Bervar. Bervar also said that his client may suffer from mental health issues stemming from his military service. FBI officials say they believe that Kang, an Army soldier in Hawaii, is a lone actor.
According to court documents, Kang allegedly attempted to help ISIS "by providing both classified military documents, and other sensitive but unclassified military documents, to people he believed would pass the documents to ISIS." The FBI affidavit also stated that he intended for the information he passed along to be helpful to ISIS, "including with fighting and military tactics," and that he "contributed to the purchase of a drone with the intention that it would be provided to, and used by, ISIS during fighting."
Along with those undercover agents posing as ISIS militants, Kang allegedly made instructional combat videos that he believed were going to aid ISIS fighters. On Saturday, as referred to in the affidavit, Kang spent $1,400 on a drone, GoPro camera, and other equipment. He allegedly believed that the devices would allow militants "to find tank positions and avenues for escape."
Authorities from the FBI said that Kang's behavior had been troublesome for some time. “He was reprimanded on several occasions for threatening to hurt or kill other service members, and for arguing pro-ISIS views while at work and on-post,” the court documents read. “Due to these remarks and threats, Kang’s security clearance was revoked in 2012, but reinstated the following year after Kang complied with military requirements stemming from the investigation.”
Kang also expressed support for the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, which as the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, took 49 lives. He reportedly said that "the shooter did what he had to do," and later that "America is the only terrorist organization in the world." He also allegedly made remarks that showed sympathy for the perpetrators of the Holocaust, including Adolf Hitler, saying that "Hitler was right," and that he "believed in the mass killing of Jews."
Kang is scheduled to appear in court for a detention hearing on Thursday.