Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
A U.S. military investigation has recommended disciplinary action for up to seven troops over their role in the burning of Qurans at a base in Afghanistan, a U.S. official said Tuesday.
No final decision has been made yet on the findings of a probe that examined the torching of Qurans at a U.S. air base in February that sparked deadly riots, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The investigation called for administrative punishment but no criminal charges of up to six army troops and one member of the Navy, the official told AFP.
The U.S. Army confirmed the probe of the incident had been wrapped up but offered no details on recommended disciplinary measures.
“The investigation is complete and is pending review,” said spokesman George Wright.
The Quran burning ignited days of violent anti-U.S. protests in which about 40 people died, plunging relations between foreign forces and their Afghan allies to an all-time low and forcing U.S. President Barack Obama to apologize.
Taliban insurgents sought to exploit the incident and called on Afghans to kill foreign troops in revenge.
The Taliban claimed to have been behind the shooting deaths of two U.S. advisers who were killed inside the Afghan interior ministry after the incident.
Top U.S. commanders issued numerous apologies over the Quran and insisted it was an accident, but details of exactly how the incident occurred have remained unclear pending the outcome of the probe.
Of the troops who might be penalized, it was unclear how many were officers and how many were enlisted personnel.
After the incident, some U.S. officials said privately the military had removed Qurans from the U.S.-run prison at Bagram because inmates were suspected of using the holy book to pass messages to each other.
But the account has yet to be officially confirmed.
U.S. ‘pretends to be sorry’
In May, al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri rejected the U.S. apology over the burning of the Quran copies, adding that the Americans “pretend to be sorry.”
“The Crusaders once again repeated their crime by insulting the holy Quran, and once again mocked the messenger of Allah,” Zawahiri said in a SITE English-language translation of his nearly seven-minute message.
“After each of their crimes, they pretend to be sorry, and they claim they will investigate what happened, which is a silly farce that Obama and his secretary repeated this time also,” said the chief of the terror network.
“The American Crusaders and their allies showed over and over again their hatred and envy of Islam, the book of Islam, the prophet (of) Islam,” Zawahiri said.
He urged Muslim across the world to “fight the enemies of Allah and the enemies of His Messenger.”
Zawahiri delivered a similar message in March, urging Afghans to rise up against “Crusader pigs” after U.S. Marines were shown in an Internet video urinating on the corpses of Taliban militants.
U.S. officials say relations with Kabul have been shored up since the incident and the two governments have signed a partnership agreement opening the door to a long-term American military presence after 2014, when the bulk of U.S. and NATO combat forces are due to withdraw.
Afghanistan is a deeply religious country where slights against Islam have frequently provoked violent protests and Afghans were incensed that any Western troops could be so insensitive, 10 years after the 2001 U.S.-led campaign that toppled the Taliban.
Source: AL ARABIYA WITH AFP