Why was an ISIS sympathizer allowed to remain in the U.S. military?

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A retired Army judge questioned why the Army would allow a soldier who allegedly showed support for ISIS to remain an active member of the U.S. military.

Col. Gregory A. Gross, who served as the initial judge in the court martial of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan in 2009, told The Associated Press Tuesday that the Army might not have viewed the behavior of Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang, 34, as a threat.

Gross, who is currently a civilian defense attorney for military service members, expressed concern regarding the similarities between the cases of Kang and Hasan, an Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 in a 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas.

“He was making all these statements, and giving these presentations,” Gross said.

Noel Tipon, an attorney in military and civilian courts, said that there is no guidance in the Army manual regarding the removal from the service of soldiers who speak favorably about terrorist groups.

Gross speculated that the FBI wanted Kang to remain in the Army while they investigated whether he had collaborators.

“They probably said `let’s monitor it and see if we can get a real terrorist cell,’” said Tipon, a former Marine.

The Army revoked Kang’s security clearance for a period, but he remained in the Army, deploying to Afghanistan in 2013.

Following a yearlong investigation, the FBI arrested Kang last week on terrorism charges shortly after he declared his loyalty to ISIS and said that he wanted to “kill a bunch of people.”

According to an FBI affidavit filed Monday in federal court, Kang is on record making pro-ISIS remarks in 2011 and threatening to hurt or kill other service members.

In 2016, the Army alerted the FBI when it “appeared that Kang was becoming radicalized,” the affidavit said.

Birney Bervar, Kang’s court-appointed attorney, said his client might suffer from service-related mental health issues of which the government was aware but neglected to treat.

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