Soldier who kissed Islamic State flag sentenced to 25 years; Ikaika Kang trained at Fort Rucker



By Leada Gore | [email protected] [email protected]

A Hawaii-based soldier was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years in prison for his support of a foreign terrorist organization, ties found during an investigation that included Alabama’s Fort Rucker.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang, 35, pleaded guilty in August to four counts of attempting to provide support to the Islamic State group. Prosecutors said Kang provided classified military documents, a drone and other items to people he believed to be associated with the terrorist organization.

Kang’s sentence includes 20 years of supervision once he’s released. If convicted at trial, Kang faced life in prison. At the time of his arrest, Kang was an active duty air traffic controller assigned to the 25th Infantry Division at Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii.

“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 it material support,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney General Demers. “With the sentence imposed today, he is being held accountable for his betrayal and his crimes. I want to thank all of the agents, analysts and prosecutors who are responsible for this case.”

Kang’s arrest came after more than a year of investigation.

Court documents show the FBI searched Kang’s lodging and computers in 2016 while he was attending a six weeks course for senior enlisted leaders at Fort Rucker. The computers, according to the filing, contained 18 military documents labeled “secret,” with files dating back to 2013. Investigators also found more than 2,000 videos, documents and graphics that referenced ISIS or violence. More Islamic State-related material and classified military documents were found at his home in Hawaii.

Kang also reportedly told an undercover agent at Fort Rucker he wanted to travel to Turkey to reach the Islamic State and join the terrorist group. He expressed a desire, prosecutors said, to “take his rifle, his magazines and kill a bunch of people.'”

Prosecutors said video showed Kang swearing loyalty to the Islamic State and kissing a flag from the organization.

Kang’s attorneys said his client may suffer from service-related mental illness and several fellow soldiers, including some who served with him at Fort Rucker, wrote letters outlining his past issues.

Thomas Maia, Kang’s first supervisor at Fort Rucker, said he had concerns about the soldier’s odd behavior, which included staring at the wall for hours saying he was trying to listen to the sound of blood through his veins. Maia said he sought mental health evaluations for Kang but those efforts were rebuffed, Reuters reported.