Lawyer for US Army sergeant accused of terrorism suggests entrapment

Kang has been detained without bond, and his lawyer claims that he suffers from mental illness. He added that FBI agents exploited him in a "sting" operation leading to his arrest.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A photograph with a redacted date, shows US Army Sergeant Ikaika Erik Kang in detention without bond, kissing the Daesh Flag and putting it up to his forehead.

The lawyer for a US Army sergeant charged in Hawaii with trying to provide material support to Daesh said on Thursday his client suffers from mental illness. He added that FBI agents exploited him in a "sting" operation leading to his arrest.

Questions about Ikaika Erik Kang's state of mind and the possibility of entrapment were raised by defence lawyer Birney Bervar in remarks to reporters after his client was ordered to remain in jail without bond.

US Magistrate Judge Kenneth Mansfield in Honolulu ruled after a brief hearing that Kang, 34, posed a flight risk and a danger to the public if released pending further proceedings.

The defence did not object to his continued incarceration.

Bervar said after the ruling he told his client, "You're going to stay in for now, and we're going to get you evaluated and see what's going on."

He said he believed Kang was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or some other mental problem that the Army failed to address properly after Kang returned from deployments to Iraq in 2011 and Afghanistan in 2014.

According to an FBI affidavit, Kang was reprimanded several times dating back to 2011 for threatening fellow service members and expressing extremist views while on duty.

The Army referred the matter to the FBI in 2016.

Kang soon became the target of what the FBI described in its affidavit as an elaborate sting operation employing several undercover agents and other "confidential human sources" who posed as Daesh operatives and sympathisers.

Evidence shows his affiliation towards Daesh

The government, in support of its motion to keep Kang detained without bond, entered several photographs said to show Kang demonstrating military combat tactics.

Two other images purport to show him kissing and then holding to his forehead a folded flag of Daesh, the terrorist organisation which had seized large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014.

He is shown in a third photo holding up an unfurled Daesh flag.

Kang, an air traffic control specialist with extensive military training in hand-to-hand combat, was arrested by the FBI on Saturday following a year-long undercover investigation.

The FBI said he swore allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, made training videos for the extremist group and purchased a drone aircraft intended to help the militants in the Middle East evade enemy tanks in battle.

Kang is also accused of trying to furnish Daesh with classified and other sensitive military documents that would have assisted the group in its combat tactics.