US soldier to plead guilty in trying to help Daesh

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When he met with the undercover agents, court documents say he pledged allegiance to the group and kissed an Daesh flag. (File/AFP)
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In this image taken from FBI video and provided by the US Attorney's Office in Hawaii on Thursday, July 13, 2017, Army Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang holds a Daesh flag after allegedly pledging allegiance to the group at a house in Honolulu on July 8. (FBI/US Attorney's Office, District of Hawaii via AP)
Updated 29 August 2018

US soldier to plead guilty in trying to help Daesh

  • Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang is scheduled to change his plea Wednesday
  • He is accused of providing classified military information, a drone, military equipment and combat fighting training

HONOLULU: A soldier based in Hawaii who is accused of pledging allegiance to Daesh and fixating on videos of beheadings and suicide bombings planned to plead guilty Wednesday to attempting to support the terrorist group.
Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang is set to plead guilty as charged in an indictment last year, defense attorney Birney Bervar said. He is agreeing to a 25-year sentence for charges that could have put him in prison for life.
Kang met with undercover agents he believed were part of Daesh, prosecutors said. He is accused of providing them with classified military information, a drone, military equipment and training in combat fighting.
When Kang met with the undercover agents he thought were from Daesh at a home in Honolulu, he pledged allegiance to the group and kissed an Daesh flag, according to court documents.
Kang was obsessed with videos depicting terrorism beheadings, suicide bombings and other violence, and he watched them in his bedroom for hours every day, a confidential informant told agents. The agents put a tracking device on the soldier's car during an investigation that led to the indictment.
Kang told the informant that if he became a Daesh member, he would be a suicide bomber and attack Schofield Barracks, a sprawling Army base outside Honolulu, according to an affidavit filed in the case.
The U.S. government first asked a judge to allow a tracking device to be placed on Kang's car in October 2016 and applied for several extensions after orders granting it expired.
Kang watched the violent videos for four to five hours each day during the week and more on the weekends, the informant told agents in 2016. The informant "remembered feeling sick to his stomach, while Kang laughed and insulted the victims," the affidavit said.
During the first week of September 2016, Kang told the informant "that if he were to do something like shoot up a large gathering, it would be out of his hatred for white people, the wicked and non-Muslims," the affidavit said.
Kang began researching Islam in 2014, couldn't wait to move to the Middle East to "join the cause" and was "only in the military for a paycheck," the informant said, according to the affidavit.
Agents said in their applications for a tracking device that they needed to monitor him continuously because they feared he would carry out an attack.
Officials with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade told the FBI they were concerned about their ability to monitor Kang, noting that he was to return from leave on May 25, 2017 — the same day as a change-of-command ceremony, the affidavit said.
Brigade personnel feared the large gathering "represented a target of opportunity for Kang should he want to harm members of the unit."
Kang has been held without bail since his July 2017 arrest. Bervar has previously said his client may suffer from service-related mental health issues that the government was aware of but neglected to treat.


Riyadh’s Sri Lankan gem tycoon dies at 80

Updated 11 min 26 sec ago

Riyadh’s Sri Lankan gem tycoon dies at 80

  • Razeen Salih entered the Guinness Book of World Records for purchasing a 41.3 carat diamond for $4.6 million at a gem auction
  • He was the founder of Sri Lankan International School in Riyadh

COLOMBO: Razeen Salih, the celebrated Sri Lankan gem tycoon in Riyadh, died in India on Sunday night during a visit to the Tamil Nadu capital of Chennai.

The owner of Al-Nadeera Gem and Jewelry in Riyadh, 80-year-old Salih started his business in the Kingdom in late 1970s with his first shop, Al- Sharq Jewellers, in the Saudi capital.

In the early 1980s, Salih entered the Guinness Book of World Records for purchasing a 41.3 carat diamond for $4.6 million at a gem auction in Geneva. The diamond, “Polar Star,” was once owned by the brother of the French Emperor Napoleon, and this was thought to be the highest price paid for a piece of jewelry at the time.

Salih, a renowned philanthropist, helped to set up the Sri Lankan International School in Riyadh, which has 1300 students today.

He attended Zahira College, Colombo, during the golden era of Dr. A.M.A. Azeez’s principalship, where he was a senior prefect and also represented the college at rugger. Everybody in College adored him for his enviable personality and his courage.

The Sri Lankan Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, Azmi Thassim said that the death of Razeen Salih came as a great shock to the Sri Lankan community in the Kingdom. “He was our pride and his contributions towards the community are immeasurable. We hope and pray that Allah will give him the best place in Jannah for his valued services for the community uplift,” Thassim said.

Azad Yousuf, an accountant at a private medical hospital in Riyadh said that Salih had left a vacuum which no one else could fill it: “He was an icon in the Saudi business circle who brought Sri Lankan gems and jewelry to the Kingdom’s market.”

Salih is survived by his two daughters Aysha and Jamaaliyah.

His remains will be flown to Philadelphia, USA.