At least five American military personnel could face a disciplinary review over the inadvertent burning of Korans on a U.S. base in Afghanistan, a Western official told the Associated Press.
A joint investigation by Afghan and American military leaders concluded that though mistakes were made, there was no intent to burn the copies of the Muslim holy book at Bagram Air Field, an act that is considered a grave sin. Still, it could result in a disciplinary review for at least five of the American military members involved. The official — who spoke on the condition of anonymity — would not elaborate on the reason why the review was recommended.
The incident started when Korans and other holy Muslim texts passed among inmates at a nearby detention facility were found to contain extremist writings. According to reports, the books were confiscated and placed in boxes intended to be thrown away. Later, soldiers on a garbage detail, having no knowledge of what the boxes contained, carried them off to a burn pit. Afghan workers recognized some of the material and went to salvage it. None of the texts were completely destroyed.
Despite apologies by President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials, the Feb. 20 incident touched off six days of rioting and violence in the region and resulted in the deaths of six U.S. troops and more than 30 Afghans. The Americans were all fatally shot by Afghan security forces or militants disguised in uniform, including two who were killed inside the Afghan Foreign Ministry.
Even as American officials insist no insult was intended and that the U.S. military justice system should be sufficent in holding those responsible accountable, Afghan officials are demanding the offenders be publicly identified and punished, according to the New York Times.
“There are some crimes that cannot be forgiven, but that need to be punished,” Maulavi Khaliq Dad, a member of the Afghan religious leaders’ Ulema Council, told the Times. “This is not any book; this is the book of the whole Muslim nation, and if a few people are punished, America will not be destroyed. But if that doesn’t happen, it will create animosity and enmity between America and the Muslim world.”