US prosecutors said Tuesday that Ikaiki Erik Kang, 35, "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."
The formal sentencing hearing is scheduled for December; his plea deal with prosecutors will keep him behind bars for 25 years, with another 20 years of supervision after his release.
The sergeant has served on tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to US News & World Report. Last July, Kang was handcuffed in Hawaii and detained without bond for allegedly participating in a plot to send classified information to Daesh to support its combat operations, Sputnik News reported.
Kang's defense attorney has claimed his client was manipulated by FBI agents into kissing a Daesh flag, a Kodak moment that was captured on camera. "It looks to me like they've exploited his mental illness and thrown gasoline on the fire of his mental illness to get him to commit a crime," the attorney said.
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On Thursday, though, Kang pleaded guilty to his crimes, which included attempting to send Daesh unmanned aerial vehicles that were purchased online. Shortly before his July 2017 arrest, he pledged allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and said he wanted to go on a shooting spree in Honolulu and the Waikiki strip, according to court documents cited by US News & World Report.
Kang was trained as an air traffic controller and was stationed in Hawaii last year when he was arrested. He was said to have started supporting Daesh in 2016 and watching their beheading videos; he also reportedly said Adolf Hitler was "right" to mass murder Jews, and that the shooter at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, "did what he had to do."