U.S. Troops to Receive Penalties for Burning 500 Copies of the Koran

The U.S. military announced on Monday that it has taken disciplinary actions against U.S. troops that had acted in two inappropriate incidents over the last year in Afghanistan, Reuters reports. Officials did not reveal the names of the troops involved or what type of punishment they will receive but did announce plans to take disciplinary action, which did not involve outright criminal prosecution.

The first incident involved a video which captured Marines urinating on dead bodies and laughing after an operation in Sandala. The incident reportedly took place in July 2011 and a video was anonymously posted online in January. All of the Marines involved in the incident pleaded guilty to the charges, including one for filming the incident, and another for indecently posing with human casualties.

On the same day as that disturbing case was closed, another more recent incident involving the destruction of hundreds of copies of the Koran and other religious texts was also concluded. A new report by the U.S. military surfaced this week that reveals that around 500 copies of the Koran were destroyed in an incinerator at the Bagram air base in February north of Kabul.

The number of copies of the religious text that were destroyed by U.S. troops was much higher than officials had first thought. The incident has remained a touchy topic for both the U.S. military and Afghan officials. Six troops were involved in the incident in which the religious texts were taken from a prison library and incinerated nearby. According to many reports, the incident was completed at the spur of the moment.

Initially, the books were taken away on suspicion that they were being used to convey messages between prisoners. The Washington Post notes that a translator for the U.S. troops erroneously told the troops that the books were extremist in nature after they had been investigated. Around 2,000 books were boxed up, including nearly 500 copies of the Koran, and burned in an incinerator.

The incident touched off massive riots that left at least three dozen people dead near the beginning of the year, according to the Wall Street Journal. The unrest and discomfort also raised tensions between President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who demanded that the individuals involved in the book burning be put on public trial for their offenses.

Depite Karzai’s repeated requests for criminal prosecution, the U.S. military announced in its newest report that a lack of training and cultural awareness were at the root of the incident and not any malicious intent. Army spokesperson Col. Jonathan Withington told reporters, “It all came down to a lapse in leadership. As leaders, these individuals have a requirement to ensure proper actions through supervision and enforcing standards.”

In conjunction with the newest reports, the U.S. military also decided not to press criminal charges on the six troops involved in the book burning. Although they did not disclose what the exact nature of their punishment would be, most sources have confirmed that the punishments will remain administrative in nature, including a reduction in rank or a forfeiture in pay.

Both incidents have put U.S. military officials on edge. The conclusive paragraph of the most recent U.S. military report regarding the burning of religious books stated that, “we have not yet achieved a level of cultural awareness within our ranks that puts respectful treatment of the Koran and other religious material to the forefront in our conduct.”

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Photo Credit: Flickr, el7bara

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Nicole Pauline Sedkowski
Nicole Sedkowski2 years ago

That is ****amn SICK! I hope those involved in the incident face karma sooner than later. I sadly don't hold much hope of them recieving a very harsh punishment. :(

Sue T.
Susan T.3 years ago

To the author of this ... Sarah Vrba....in the interest of impartial reportong/blogging will you write a story about the atrocities perpetrated on US soldiers or innocent people who just happen to be unlucky enough lo live in these countries? Like women being stoned? honor killings? killing in general of people who Love the USA?
I dare you Sarah ... yeah right

Sue T.
Susan T.3 years ago

this is such a crock of dog crap

.3 years ago

I think that's a very alluring idea! Just pull out from Afghanistan and watch all the Taliban kill all the non-Talibani Muslims, and non-Talibani Muslims kill the Talibani Muslims.

Probably in the course of a month or so, all of the Afghanis will have killed each other.

Peeing on dead Afghanis who have killed our soldiers, our soldiers who are trying to train the Afghanis to become policemen so they can take over and govern themselves and bring a civilized and functional government, seems unseemly, but given what our guys are up against, definitely understandable.

No number of Korans - one of the most evil and vile books of all time - except maybe Mein Kampf – could be burned and correct the damage, the hate, the blood, the torture, the maiming, the absolute destruction that Islam has wreaked across the world ever since its inception some 1400 years ago.

Get out of there and let them all kill each other. Beats urinating on them any day.

monica r.
monica r.3 years ago

Fine, when the Afghanistan people we are training get prosecuted for shooting our military (and those from UK etc) in the back of the head, and Karzai and several other Afghan government officials apologize abjectly (as our Prez et al did for the books) for the hundreds killed this way, I MIGHT see some moral equivalency or reason for us to lick their butts.

You know what, just pull out of there now and tell Karzai he can fight the Taliban his own self and see how long he lasts without the West propping him up. He makes a lot of demands for someone in his position.

Haleene W.
Haleene W.3 years ago

Urinating on the dead is wrong no matter the stress you are under when you represent America. Punish away, However... This book burning reasoning sounds erroneous.
First off ...How did they hear about these books caring messages, and since when do we burn evidence, and possible clues as to what those messages were?
To react so suddenly was not a measure of security, but that of revenge and hatred. Understandable when you are fighting with rules and your friends are dieing next to you, but that is the strain of being a representative of America.
There should have been a hearing to match the crime, but taken into consideration should be our beliefs also.
Many here (mostly because of importations) no longer believe in God as the final days predicted would happen. But as a believer in God, I still would not attack someone who burned my bible. That is their cross to bare. I would buy another, and another, and another......

Arild Warud
Arild Warud3 years ago


Robert O.
Robert O.3 years ago

Thanks Sarah.

Gloria H.
Gloria H.3 years ago

If they behead their own people for any preceived reason (or non-reason), what makes us feel that this incident would go unnoticed? Maybe it is male postureing, but it has endangered the lives of innocent people that will suffer under retaliation stupid as it is. Is any American life worth proving a point when dealing with extremists?

Rose Becke3 years ago