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US ‘model soldier’ gets 25 years in prison for Islamic State support

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A U.S. Army sergeant described by former colleagues as a one-time “model soldier” was sentenced to 25 years in prison at a federal court in Hawaii on Tuesday after pleading guilty to providing material support to the Islamic State militant group, a local news outlet reported.

Ikaika Erik Kang, 35, agreed to a plea deal in August on four counts of breaking antiterrorism laws in which he accepted a proposed 25-year sentence.

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Judge Susan Oki Mollway accepted the terms of the plea deal at Tuesday morning’s hearing, Hawaii’s KHON2 news channel reported. Kang told the court he knew what he did was wrong, KHON2 reported.

Kang had begun expressing support for Islamic State, which the United States deems a foreign terrorist organization, by early 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Undercover agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation began meeting with Kang earlier this year, some of them posing as members of the militant group.

Kang gave them military gear and classified documents and agreed to teach them hand-to-hand combat in a video-recorded session, according to federal prosecutors.

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Lawyers for Kang filed three letters of support in court that described him as a diligent but withdrawn soldier who struggled with his mental health.

Kang’s older sister, Erika Takahashi, wrote that Kang grew up in a “very abusive household,” adding that he “is a good person on the inside.”

Two soldiers who worked with Kang in air-traffic control at Alabama’s Fort Rucker military post used their letters to urge the judge to help Kang get counseling.

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Thomas Maia, who was Kang’s first supervisor at Fort Rucker, called Kang a “model soldier” but said he had worried about Kang’s odd behavior. This included staring at a wall for hours on end, saying he was trying to listen to the sound of his blood running through his veins, Maia wrote.

Maia wrote that his efforts to secure a mental health evaluation for Kang were rebuffed.

“He didn’t seek out ISIS on his own, he was approached and socially engineered by the FBI at the Army’s request,” Maia wrote, using an acronym to refer to the Islamic State. “If he would have been given adequate mental treatment back when I asked for it, none of this would have happened.”

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Federal prosecutors say Kang agreed to swear an oath of loyalty to Islamic State in a pseudo-ceremony organized by the undercover FBI agents. After the ceremony, Kang told the agents he was ready to take his rifle to downtown Honolulu and start shooting, whereupon he was arrested.

Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Scott Malone, Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis


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2012

Here are 7 wild, bizarre and pathetic moments from Trump’s ‘campaign launch’

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On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump held a rally that was billed as the official launch his re-election campaign — though he has never really stopped holding campaign rallies.

As expected, the president ranted, lied, and engaged in the raucous attacks that are central to his connection with Republican voters. Some of it was actually just sad, such as his continued obsession with Hillary Clinton.

Here are seven of the wildest, disturbing and pathetic moments from the rally:

1. He said Democrats "want to destroy our country as we know it."

Trump casually accuses Democrats of "want[ing] to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it." pic.twitter.com/4K79KlbEeR

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2012

British PM candidates clash over Brexit as Boris Johnson skips debate

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Candidates to become Britain's next prime minister clashed over Brexit strategy at their first debate on Sunday but the frontrunner, Boris Johnson, dodged the confrontation.

The 90-minute debate on Channel 4 featured the five remaining candidates and an empty podium for Johnson, the gaffe-prone former foreign secretary and former mayor of London.

In sometimes ill-tempered exchanges, four of the five candidates said they would seek to renegotiate the draft Brexit divorce deal agreed with Brussels even though EU leaders have repeatedly ruled this out.

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2012

Michael Cohen ordered back to Congress on March 6

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President Donald Trump's so-called "fixer" is being asked to return to Congress for more questioning on March 6.

Outside of the closed-door committee hearing Thursday, Cohen said that the House Intelligence Committee is seeking further information, according to Washington Examiner writer Byron York.

Michael Cohen finished closed-door testimony before House Intel Committee, says he's coming back for another session March 6. Again: No reason for secrecy. Transcripts should be released ASAP.

— Byron York (@ByronYork) February 28, 2019

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