U.S. soldier arrested for attempting to train Islamic State fighters

July 11 (UPI) — An active duty U.S. soldier in Hawaii with the highest combat level training in the Army was arrested for providing material support for Islamic State.

The FBI used a SWAT team to take in Sgt. Ikaika Erik Kang, 34, an air traffic control operator with the 25th Infantry Division at U.S. Army Pacific Command on Saturday. They charged him with “attempting to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.”

“A probable cause arrest was made in the interest of public safety,” said Honolulu FBI Special Agent in Charge Paul D. Delacourt. “We believe that Kang was a lone actor and was not associated with others who present a threat to Hawaii.”

According to the criminal complaint, Kang provided “material support to [Islamic State] by providing both classified military documents, and other sensitive but unclassified military documents, to persons he believed would pass the documents to [Islamic State].”

The complaint says Kang used his high-level combat training and mixed-martial arts experience to train a person he believed to be a member of Islamic State and videotaping the sessions “so they could be used by [Islamic State] to train other fighters” and helped pay for a drone he believed would be used by Islamic State.

He also told an undercover FBI agent that he wanted to join Islamic State.

“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 said, according to the complaint. “I’m just going to go there…and fight these guys who are committing genocide.”

The Department of Defense said Kang was a highly decorated soldier who had received several commendations, including the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal and the Army Good Conduct Medal, reported Hawaii News Now.

Kang deployed to Iraq from March 2010 to February 2011, and to Afghanistan from July 2013 to April 2014.

The FBI complaint says Kang “was becoming radicalized” in early 2016. He expressed more interest in Islam, “anti-government topics,” and Islamic State. The Army alerted him to the FBI, which sent an undercover agent to make contact with him. Kang and the undercover agent had several discussions and Kang once told him that the only terrorist organization in the world is the United States. He also told the undercover that “Hitler was right, saying he believed in the mass killing of Jews.”

After his arrest, the FBI says that Kang admitted to wanting “to help the Islamic State as early as late 2015, because he saw how ill-equipped they were for the fight.”

Kang’s attorney, Birney Bervar, told NBC News that Kang, “may have some service-related mental health issues which the government was aware of but neglected to treat.”

He had been reprimanded by the Army before in 2012 for “threatening to hurt or kill other service members, and for arguing pro-ISIS views while at work and on-post.”

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