A U.S. Army active duty soldier, Ikaika Erik Kang, 34, based in Hawaii was arrested for attempting to provide material aid and support to the so called Islamic State (IS) after an extensive FBI undercover investigation. The Hawaii-based U.S. Army soldier was arrested over the weekend after allegedly attempting to provide military documents and a drone to the ISIS terror group.

Andrew Bringuel

Andrew Bringwel, FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Behavioral Science Unit (Ret) helped me in this investigation:

 It is always shocking when a soldier is implicated in the very act that they are sworn to defend against. It is the equivalent of a caregiver being accused of child abuse or police officer being accused of taking a bribe. The breach of trust is so egregious on its face that it’s shocking, but it shouldn’t be surprising. Soldiers are trained to use lawful violence in order to resolve conflict. War is a form of politics with adversaries striving to force the other to capitulate to terms for surrender in furtherance of their social or political objectives.

How is enrollment in FBI or other military forces for an American citizen?

The military recruits from the same pool of humans that caregivers and police officers come from and as such these groups are represented by good and bad people. United States (US) soldiers take an oath that states “I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the US against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the US and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”  This oath of loyalty allows the soldier to use lawful violence to serve and protect the social and political objectives of the US.

How does the FBI define ‘terrorism’?

The definition for terrorism used by the FBI is “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85). So it becomes a sensational news story when a service member breaks their oath and uses unlawful violence “…in furtherance of a political or social objective” counter to the US’s goals and objectives. The crimes are sensational because the actors are an anomaly th

The published accounts of Kang as an angry, disillusioned, loner, sympathetic towards IS is common among soldiers who became terrorists.  He is alleged to being radicalized as a betrayer true believer who felt he was fighting for the wrong side and offered training and equipment to IS as well as expressing his willingness to carry out acts of terror.

at doesn’t accurately represent the vast majority of soldiers who represent their country with pride and honor.

 

We don’t know if the documents finished in the hands of terrorists, but it’s sure that Kang defended Omar Mateen, the gunman who killed more than 50 people at an Orlando gay bar in June 2016 “did what he had to do “, Kang said. He also allegedly said “America is the only terrorist organization” and that he “believed in the mass killing of Jews. What do you think?

The published accounts of Kang as an angry, disillusioned, loner, sympathetic towards IS is common among soldiers who became terrorists.  He is alleged to being radicalized as a betrayer true believer who felt he was fighting for the wrong side and offered training and equipment to IS as well as expressing his willingness to carry out acts of terror.

Do you remember other episodes in the past?

At the end of the Civil War with the south reeling from defeat a group of Confederate veterans in Pulaski, Tennessee convened a secret Christian society called the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The social club quickly became a terrorist group that opposed the federal government’s progressive Reconstruction Era-activities in the South and used unlawful violence to further their own social and political objectives. Former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest was the KKK’s first grand wizard; in 1869, he unsuccessfully tried to disband it after he grew critical of the Klan’s excessive violence.

Almost 150 years later the US Military is still has the occasional soldier who uses the training to use violence in an unlawful manner.  Take for example, Timothy McVeigh.  A US Army veteran and failed Army Ranger. McVeigh was an anti government racist who attended KKK rallies and wanted to overthrow the US government.  During his time in the Army he became an expert in the use of firearms.  He gained knowledge on developing explosive devices and military tactics. He was radicalized along with another soldier, Terry Nichols, in the white supremacist movement and on April 19, 1995 drove a rented truck to the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City setting off a 5,000lb bomb killing 168 people including 19 children.

McVeigh was raised as a Catholic and when interviewed after the terrorist attack said he believed in Christian beliefs. He held onto those beliefs until his death by the government when he received the Last Rites from a priest before his execution.

With our FBI friend, Andrew Bringuel, we learn that McVeigh is not unique in terms of being a soldier who is a racist. Scott Barfield who is a Department of Defense gang investigator has stated that Neo-Nazis are in all branches of the military and the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC) has found evidence of white supremacist gang activity on several military installations both inside the US and on international military bases. In a Stars and Stripes article published in August 2012 it was reported that the Pentagon has tried to crackdown on extremists in recent years but the issue remains.

The issue of radicalization within the military’s ranks resurfaced after Wade Page, an Army veteran, attacked a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on August 5, 2012 killing six people before killing himself.  Page was identified as a white supremacist skinhead and it was reported that like past directives attributed to IS and other criminal Muslim terror groups, US based supremacist groups encourage followers to join the military in order to learn how to shoot, work with explosives and prepare for a coming race war.

The US Military is also concerned with radicalized Muslim soldiers among the ranks.  There have been several cases of soldiers breaking their oaths and engaging in unlawful violence in furtherance of a criminal Islamist terror group. The case of Sgt. Asan Akbar who threw grenades in three tents at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait is one example. The incident resulted in two deaths and 14 wounded. Akbar was previously associated with a Wahhabi sect of Islam that had been a breeding source for anti-American Islamic terrorists.  A college professor once said that he had a “chip on his shoulder” about Islam. Akbar was a convert to Islam and reportedly said upon his arrest, “You guys are coming into our countries and you’re going to rape our women and kill our children.”  Clearly this soldier chose an anti-American fatwa over his military oath.

What about the Army veteran Jeffery Leon Battle?

He was a New Black Panther member, arrested in Oregon as part of the Portland Seven who were accused of trying to travel to Afghanistan to aid the Taliban. He refused to cooperate with the government and was sentenced to 20 years after pleading guilty to seditious conspiracy and levying war against the US.

The name ‘Nidal Malik Hasan’ remember you something?

American Muslim of Palestinian decent, who was convicted of fatally shooting 13 people and injuring more than 30 others in the Fort Hood mass shooting on November 5, 2009. He was sentenced to death. Hasan was a United States Army Medical Corps psychiatrist who admitted to the shootings at his court-martial in August 2013. During the course of his internship and residency there were multiple times that his beliefs and behaviors became a concern for colleagues and commanding officers. He expressed views to colleagues that were later described as anti-American. After the fatal shooting of two military recruiters by Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad in Little Rock, Arkansas Hasan made statements against the American military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said that Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor.

These subjects, have any common factors?

Perhaps, one common factor among many of these subjects is the description as being socially isolated, or awkward. In Hasan’s case he was also under stress from his work with soldiers, and he would become upset about their accounts of warfare. Perhaps an indicator of the violence that was to come, Hasan gave away many of his belongings to a neighbor.  Originally the Army described the case as workplace violence but later the case was classified as an act of terrorism.

 

Putting the threat into perspective there are over 1.5 million total active duty soldiers and Marines in the US Military, not including over 500,000 reservists. The vast majority of these men and women serve the country honorably and faithfully sacrificing their lives for the nation’s security.  The documented cases of US military personnel who breach their oath of office in favor of a terrorist object numbers in 10s not 100s or 1,000s. Like the Hasan case the Kang case represents exception not the rule and the coming days will reveal evidence that the radicalization of Ikaika Erik Kang was a process and not a snap event.  Perhaps early interdiction will allow operators opportunities to counter-radicalize at risk subjects, disengage those who are already showing signs of extremist beliefs and behaviors, or neutralize the imminent threat from the committed adversary like Kang.