US soldiers let off after burning copies of Quran
Afghan protesters burn a U.S. flag during a protest in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Burning about 300 Qurans by US soldiers earlier this year has triggered riots in Afghanistan. REUTERS photoSix U.S. Army soldiers and three Marines escaped criminal charges for burning Qurans and urinating on the corpses of Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, but they received administrative punishments, U.S. military officials said on Aug. 27.
A military investigation concluded that miscommunications, poor guidance and soldiers’ decisions to take “the easy way instead of the right way” resulted in the burning of more than 300 Qurans and other religious books at a U.S. base in Afghanistan early this year. The administrative punishments, like reduce rank, extra duty or forfeiture of pay, fell short of criminal prosecution. They also could stall future advancement and end military careers.
It was unclear whether they would satisfy Afghan demands for justice as the Quran burning triggered Afghan riots and retribution killings.
Actions were ‘intentional’
Afghan President Hamid Karzai earlier this year branded the Marine’s actions as “inhuman,” and he initially called for a public trial for the soldiers over the Quran incident.
U.S. military leaders widely condemned both the Quran burning and the urination, which was captured on video. Afghan officials have claimed the Quran burning was intentional, and the incident reinforced perceptions in the country that Americans are insensitive to the Afghans’ religion and culture. Discipline against a Navy sailor in the Quran burning was dismissed. The Navy said the sailor was found not guilty of any alleged misconduct. The Marine Corps said it will announce discipline against additional Marines in the urination case at a later date.
The investigation report provided new details about the missteps that led to the burning of about 315 religious books and Qurans, which had been were taken from the Parwan Detention Facility. Officials believed that extremists being detained there were using the texts to exchange messages. More than 2,000 books, including about 1,200 religious texts and Qurans, were targeted for disposal, but most were saved when an angry crowd of Afghans interceded.