Dawn News

US troops punished over Quran burning

An Afghan protester gestures during a protest near a US military base in Kabul in this February 22, 2012 file photo. Hundreds of angry Afghans gathered in a second day of violent clashes after copies of the Koran, Islam's holy book, were burned at NATO's main base in Afghanistan. The US military is expected to announce disciplinary action in response to two incidents that provoked outrage in Afghanistan early this year, one over a video depicting Marines urinating on corpses and another involving burning copies of the Koran. - Reuters photo

WASHINGTON: The US military said on Monday it was disciplining US troops over two incidents that provoked outrage in Afghanistan early this year, one involving a video depicting Marines urinating on corpses and another over burned copies of the Quran.

But the administrative punishments fell short of criminal prosecution and it was unclear whether they would satisfy Afghan demands for justice.

Six soldiers received administrative punishments over the incident, which the investigation concluded was due to factors that included a lack of trust between Americans and Afghans.

Still, the investigation found no malicious intent to disrespect Islam by those involved.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai branded the Marine's actions in the video as “inhuman,” and he initially called for a public trial for the soldiers over the Quran incident.

The military did not disclose precise punishments for the troops but Army and Marine Corps spokesmen said they fell into a category that includes administrative sanctions, like a reduction in rank or forfeiture of pay.

The US military investigation released on Monday determined that American troops burned up to 100 Qurans and other religious materials in Afghanistan during a February incident that led to deadly riots and strained relations between the two countries.

The Marine Corps announced three Marines had pleaded guilty to charges over the video, which was widely seen on the Internet in January and showed Marines urinating on the corpses of what the Marine Corps said were dead Taliban fighters. One can be heard saying, “Have a nice day, buddy.”

The identities of the three Marines were not disclosed and disciplinary actions against additional Marines would be announced at a later date, the Marine Corps said. It said its investigation showed the incident actually took place on or around July 27, 2011, during a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

Also on Monday, the Army announced that six soldiers received administrative punishments over an incident in which copies of the Quran and other religious material were removed from a prison library and sent to an incinerator to be destroyed. Four of the individuals involved were officers and two of them were non-commissioned officers, a spokesman said.

The incident in February touched off several days of rioting and attacks on US troops after local workers found charred copies of the Quran among the trash at the incinerator at the Bagram base north of Kabul.

At least 30 people died in the violence that spread across the country after the incident. Shortly after, two American officers were shot dead in a secure area of the Afghan interior ministry, a crime that remains unsolved.

US officials at the time said some of the religious material had been removed from the prison library at Bagram because of concern that it was extremist in nature and was being used to pass messages among prisoners. Details of the investigation were expected to be released later on Monday.

Reaction to the incident prompted President Barack Obama to write to Afghan President Hamid Karzai to apologize.

Comments (1) Closed

Abdullah Hussain
Aug 28, 2012 08:33pm
What punishment they got for this unpardonable crime. Hand them over to Afghan peoples to punish them.