Six US army soldiers and three marines have escaped criminal
charges for burning copies of the Qur’an and urinating on the
corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, but have received
administrative punishments, according to US military officials.
A military investigation concluded yesterday that
miscommunications, poor guidance and soldiers' decisions to take
"the easy way instead of the right way" resulted in the burning of
Quran copies and other religious books at a US base in Afghanistan
early this year.
US military leaders widely condemned
both the Qur’an burning and the urination, which was captured on
The Qur’an burning triggered Afghan
riots and retribution killings, including two US troops who were
shot by an Afghan soldier and two US military advisers who were
killed at their desks at the interior ministry.
The exact punishments were not
disclosed on Monday, and it was not clear whether the lack of
criminal charges would trigger any protests in Afghanistan.
Administrative punishments could include demotions, extra duty,
forfeiture of pay or a letter in their file. They also could stall
future advancement and end military careers.
Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for
Afghanistan's president, said Hamid Karzai's office would review
the decisions and wait until Tuesday to respond. The news on the
punishments came late at night in Afghanistan.
Afghan officials have claimed the
Qur’an 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 Qur’an 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 Qur’an copies, which had been taken from the
detention facility in Parwan.
Officials believed that extremists
being detained there were using the texts to exchange messages.
The religious books and other materials were put in burn bags and
were taken to a fire pit used to burn garbage at Bagram Air Field,
a major US base north of Kabul.
More than 2,000 books, including
about 1,200 religious texts and Qur’an copies, were targeted for
disposal, but most were saved when an angry crowd of Afghans
Troops estimated that about 100
religious books were destroyed. Others were recovered, but many
were damaged. Officials have said repeatedly the Qur’an burning
was not intentional and a mistake.
The report released yesterday found that service members
"mishandled" Qur’an copies and other religious material and put
them in an incinerator.
It concluded that there was no
"malicious intent to disrespect the Qur’an or defame the faith of
Instead, it said the burning
disaster resulted from miscommunications, ignorance about the
handling of Qur’an copies and the failure to provide clear