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Trial set for soldier over alleged Islamic State aid

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A federal judge Monday scheduled a trial date in September for Wheeler Army Airfield soldier Ikaika Erik Kang on four counts of trying to provide support to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

Defense lawyer Birney Bervar entered not-guilty pleas to all four charges on Kang’s behalf, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield set the Sept. 19 trial date.

Mansfield accepted the not-guilty pleas after Kang, 34, of Waimanalo, said he understood the charges against him.

U.S. District Senior Judge Susan Oki Mollway will preside over the trial, which will likely occur later than September because of anticipated delays.

Bervar has said that he believes Kang suffers from mental illness, and intends to have him evaluated by a mental health expert. Either side can be given more time to prepare by Mollway if she determines it’s warranted due to the case’s complexity.

Sgt. 1st Class Kang, an air traffic controller, is charged with four counts of attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Two of the charges accuse Kang of trying to give ISIS military documents, some of them classified. Another charge accuses Kang of trying to give ISIS military gear, including tactical equipment and ammunition, and a GoPro Karma, a consumer camera-equipped drone. The last charge accuses Kang of making a training video for ISIS of weaponry, firearms and hand-to-hand combat techniques.

Kang remains in custody at the Federal Detention Center after agreeing to the government’s request to deny him the opportunity for release on bail or bond. In its request, the government provided photographs of what it says is Kang pledging his allegiance to ISIS, kissing and embracing the Islamic State flag, and teaching combat techniques and firearm tactics to an undercover FBI agent posing as an Islamic State fighter.

The FBI has said that it had been monitoring Kang for the past year and that people Kang thought were connected to ISIS were undercover agents.

The U.S. attorney in Hawaii is prosecuting the case with help from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism Section.

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