Ikaika Erik Kang, 35, a Sergeant First Class in the U.S.
Army stationed at Schofield Barracks, pleaded guilty today in federal court to
four counts of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of
Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Kang was indicted on terrorism charges on
July 19, 2017. As part of a plea
agreement reached with the United States, Kang agreed to serve 25 years in
prison and at least 20 years, and up to life, of supervised release. Kang will be sentenced on Dec. 10, by Senior
U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway.
If Judge Mollway accepts the plea agreement at that time, the 25-year
term of imprisonment will be binding.
The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for
National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Kenji M. Price for the District
of Hawaii, and Special Agent in Charge Sean Kaul of the FBI’s Honolulu Field
“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 Demers.
“With today’s plea, he will be held accountable for his crimes. I want to thank all of the agents, analysts
and prosecutors who are responsible for this case.”
“This Office will vigorously prosecute anyone who attempts
to provide material support to terrorists who seek to spread fear and cause
mayhem in our communities through senseless acts of violence,” said U.S.
Attorney Price. “The prosecutors and law
enforcement agencies who brought the defendant to justice in this case work
shoulder-to-shoulder, every day, promoting our national security interests and
keeping our communities safe.”
“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,” Special Agent in Charge Kaul. “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. I would like to
personally thank the United States Attorney’s Office, the Unites States Army,
the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Honolulu Police Department, and
the entire Joint Terrorism Task Force Community here in Hawaii for bringing
this investigation to a successful conclusion.
Today, our community is a safer place due to their tireless
According to court documents and information presented in
court, Kang became sympathetic to ISIS by at least early 2016. He regularly watched ISIS propaganda videos
online, including videos that depicted ISIS members violently executing
civilian and military victims. Kang made
numerous statements in support of ISIS, expressed a desire to join ISIS, and
spoke approvingly about committing acts of violence. At the time, Kang made these statements, he
owned an AR-15-style assault rifle and a pistol, both of which he kept at his
residence on Oahu. Kang was under
ongoing physical surveillance by law enforcement from the beginning of the
investigation until the time of his eventual arrest.
In late June and early July of 2018, Kang met numerous times
with undercover FBI agents who he believed had connections to ISIS. He provided them with sensitive, non-public
military documents, some of which were classified at the SECRET level, which he
intended that they later provide to ISIS.
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 U.S. military’s
“weapons file,” which describes all the armament capabilities of the U.S. armed
forces; details about a sensitive mobile airspace management system used by the
U.S. military; and documents containing personally identifiable information of
U.S. service members.
Kang later provided the undercover agents with a
commercially purchased small aerial drone, a military chest rig, and other
military-style clothing and gear. Kang
described how ISIS could operationally utilize the drone to track U.S. troop
movements and gain tactical advantage by evading American armored vehicles. Kang then met two additional undercover FBI
personnel, one who purported to be a high-ranking ISIS leader, or “sheikh,” and
another who played the role of an ISIS fighter.
Kang lead them in a hand-to-hand military combatives training session
using his weapons, in order to train the purported ISIS member in fighting
techniques. The sessions were
video-recorded, with the understanding that the video would be taken back to
ISIS-controlled territory and used to train other ISIS fighters in hand-to-hand
combat and weapons techniques.
On July 8, 2017, Kang swore an oath of loyalty, known as
“bayat,” to ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a ceremony conducted
by the purported ISIS sheikh. After the
ceremony, Kang kissed the ISIS flag.
Kang then said that he wanted to get his rifle and go and fight; just go
to downtown Honolulu and Waikiki strip and start shooting. Kang was subsequently arrested and taken into
This case was investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force
in Honolulu; the FBI; and the U.S. Army, Criminal Investigative Division, and
was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth M. Sorenson and Marc A.
Wallenstein of the District of Hawaii, and Trial Attorney Taryn M. Meeks of the
National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.