US troops punished over Quran burning, urination video

Published: August 27, 2012

The video, which became public in January after the images were posted on the Internet, actually took place on or around July 27, 2011. PHOTO: LA TIMES

WASHINGTON: The US military said on Monday it was disciplining US troops over two incidents that provoked outrage in Afghanistan early this year, one involving a video depicting Marines urinating on corpses and another over burned copies of the The Holy Quran.

The military said the punishments were administrative, which could include actions such as a reprimand, reduction in rank or forfeiture of pay. Neither incident so far has resulted in criminal charges, however, something that may fail to satisfy Afghan demands for justice.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai branded the Marine’s actions in the video as “inhuman,” and he initially called for a public trial for the soldiers over the Quran incident.

The Marine Corps announced three Marines had pleaded guilty to charges over the video, including one for “urinating on the body of a deceased Taliban soldier.” Another wrongfully posed for a photo with human casualties and the third lied about the incident to investigators.

The identities of the Marines were not disclosed and disciplinary actions against other Marines would be announced at a later date, the Marine Corps said.

The video, which became public in January after the images were posted on the Internet, actually took place on or around July 27, 2011, during a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, the Marines said, describing findings of the investigation.

One of the four Marines shown in the video can be heard saying, “Have a nice day, buddy,” while another makes a lewd joke, as they urinated on three corpses.

Also on Monday, the Army announced that six soldiers received administrative punishments over an incident in which copies of the Quran and other religious material were removed from a prison library and sent to an incinerator to be destroyed. Four of the individuals involved were officers and two of them were non-commissioned officers, a spokesman said.

The incident in February touched off several days of rioting and attacks on US troops after local workers found charred copies of the Quran among the trash at the incinerator at the Bagram base north of Kabul.

US officials at the time said some of the religious material had been removed from the prison library at Bagram because of concern that it was extremist in nature and was being used to pass messages among prisoners.

At least 30 people died in the violence that spread across the country after the incident. Shortly after, two American officers were shot dead in a secure area of the Afghan interior ministry, a crime that remains unsolved.

Reaction to the incident prompted President Barack Obama to write to Afghan President Hamid Karzai to apologise.

An investigation into the Quran burning concluded in June with recommendations that the troops involved receive administrative punishment, a US official said at the time. Details of that investigation were also expected to be released later on Monday.

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Reader Comments (29)

  • sam
    Aug 27, 2012 - 11:42PM

    Brave Afghans made arrogant America to bow down and take action against their own soldiers.Though punishments are just a joke but still if you compare with American history, they never prosecute their own people. Raymond Davis, killer of Pakistani civilians is living free in America. There is lesson for Pakistanis to learn. How Afghans with no Nukes, AWACS and missiles are teaching Americans.

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  • FU
    Aug 28, 2012 - 1:01AM

    @Sam you have to kidding. Any military expects their soldiers to behave decently, if they don’t they will be court marshaled. Lol brave Afghans made America to take action. I cannot stop laughing.

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  • Riaz Khan
    Aug 28, 2012 - 1:21AM

    @sam:
    By punishing these soldiers,USA has shown the world that they dont tolerate any misbehavior amongst their soldiers and punish them no matter what

    While,we are giving a free hand to murderers,looters and tax defaulters…

    And this is not due to the efforts of the barbaric Afghans..Recommend

  • Cautious
    Aug 28, 2012 - 1:30AM

    @Sam. Typical anti American blather — if you want to complain about something how about the Pakistani Sharia law that let Davis go free. He has paid for his crime (no pun intended) in Pakistan and that prevents American law from prosecuting him.

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  • Ali
    Aug 28, 2012 - 2:17AM

    @Sam, nice attempt to hid 130,000 guests in your home

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  • Naeem Siddiqui
    Aug 28, 2012 - 6:20AM

    This ‘punishment’ is a mockery of justice if it ever existed in US armed forces.

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  • Aug 28, 2012 - 8:32AM

    They are being punished for burning a book, but putting the lives of other American soldiers in danger, their own colleagues.

    At the end of the day is a book, in a peaceful, secular, Democratic country. But, Afghanistan is none of that. Not that different is Pakistan.

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  • MrFai
    Aug 28, 2012 - 10:37AM

    It Shows the Mentality of Stupid American Soldier’s and the FEAR of the HOLY BOOK QURAN…. so when there mind stops working they just start doing un explainable things….. The punishment is a joke … they should have a trial and be punished accordingly.

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  • Aug 28, 2012 - 11:09AM

    To Brute Force. We are Muslims, we have our peaceful religion which even told us to respect other religions and their holy Books. Muslims can not even think of watching someone insult Bible. In return we expect non Muslims to respect our Holy Book, The QURAN. By the way it is not mere a book. It is the word of ALLAH, the GOD of everyone. So it is not mere a book. It is unchanged since the day it was revealed and will remain till day of judgement.
    American soldiers by doing these criminal acts of Zombies and barbariasm by burning holy Book of Muslims and urinating dead bodies are instigating Muslims anger and putting the lives of their fellow soldiers at trmendous risk in Afghanistan.
    No Muslim in the world will tolerate this act. And rememebr American soldiers are sitting at the striking distance of the sole Muslims nuclear power and worlds best Army, the Pakistan Army.

    We apakistanis, are peaceful, resposible human beings and are fully aware of the challenges posted by the foreign elements in Pakistan. And we are ready for anything.

    Nuclear power is lethal but do not underestimate the Hydrogen fuel bombs. Americans, it is not wise to play with fire. Pakistan has already passed its limits of tolerance. America should give a death penalty to these zombie soldiers otherwise Afghans will give them.

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  • M.Ahmer Ali
    Aug 28, 2012 - 11:41AM

    @sam:
    This soldier deserves death sentence before the world thru media so that no any wild beast US’ soldier could do so in the future……..

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  • Ozymandias
    Aug 28, 2012 - 4:16PM

    I’m willing to concede that the burning may have been accidental, but the urination was not. And the most they’ll get is demotion or docking of a month’s pay. This is why you have so many Green on Blue attacks in Afghanistan now.

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  • Ahmad Khatri
    Aug 28, 2012 - 5:23PM

    @M.Ahmer Ali

    Why death sentence ? How many innocents have been murdered by him ? You can’t give death sentence to a person for slapping someone . Just hold ur breath and anger…When in the name of Islam , Ahmadis and Shias are being killed , that is justified , but this incident , which is not that serious , you are demanding death penalty.. This shows ur mentality of urs and ur society u belong to.

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  • Rasheed
    Aug 28, 2012 - 5:27PM

    I met Pakistanis in the England who insult the Koran and tore it up in front of my eyes. We need to teach use the laws to teach them a lesson.

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  • Malik
    Aug 28, 2012 - 5:31PM

    Bismillah. Leave it to the non-Muslim militias to either rape, massacre, kill indiscriminately, urinate on the dead, parody hostages in perverted garb, defile holy scriptures, or just outright mass kill non-combatants with nepalm, nukes, or with their great shock and awe. I never ever hear Muslim armies behaving ever in history like non-Muslim militias. I guess their hate towards Muslims and to defile Islam that is suppose to be holy and sacred is intrinsic to the shaytani nafs people, all for amusement and laughter. Allahu Akbar *3 ~.

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  • Umer
    Aug 28, 2012 - 5:34PM

    Now let’s see some punishments on Gojra burning of bibles, churches and Christians too.Recommend

  • Umer
    Aug 28, 2012 - 6:00PM

    @Malik:
    >I never ever hear Muslim armies behaving ever in history like non-Muslim militias.

    Have you not heard of Bangladesh and what we did there? What about Baluchistan?Recommend

  • bilal
    Aug 28, 2012 - 6:29PM

    why just punished. they should have been trialed according to international court. if this act was done by any Muslim how would have they reacted. Why UN is sleeping? why they always favor US for all their acts.Recommend

  • Sir King Kong Bunty
    Aug 28, 2012 - 6:52PM

    And here Pakistan is baying for blood of a minor, metally handicapped, poor and most probably innocent girl. Shame!

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  • Eckhart johnson
    Aug 28, 2012 - 7:12PM

    @Neutronforce:
    You are talking about hydrogen bombs. Are you in your senses ? If that happens believe me Pakistan as a nation will become a thing of the past. Who told you Pakistan has the best army..you cant even stop drones and you think you can defeat America in a war and that too nuclear. LOL , I agree that what USA soldiers did in Afghanistan was totally wrong and should be punished. But at least talk sense !!!Recommend

  • khalsa
    Aug 28, 2012 - 7:35PM

    @MrFai:
    power of a book. they were booked for not being disciplined and not under any blashphemy law. you have to put your brain. this is no khilafat world.

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  • khalsa
    Aug 28, 2012 - 7:41PM

    @Malik:
    you shall not say so because where you live was hindu and buddhist land and even in afghanistan buddist sculptures were destroyed by your great muslim militia. Recommend

  • Aug 28, 2012 - 8:35PM

    @Neutronforce:

    First you start off with claiming yours is a peaceful Religion, and a handful of words later you begin to justify violence in the name of the very same Religion.

    How are you different from the Taliban who say they are killing people who help Kafirs or are Kafirs or are not Islamic enough? They too have a reason to be violent.

    You believe that its a word of God. No scientist worth his salt has been able to prove God exists. So, you are willing to kill for a power you can’t even prove conclusively!

    Where is your basis for belief, man? Isn’t it blind and without reason? People should die because they have abused some imagined ideology? The price of that “sin” is death?

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  • poleturtle
    Aug 28, 2012 - 9:20PM

    What they did was shameful What the courts have done is more shamefull. What the Afghanistan Government has been doing since decades is the ultimate shame. They have not only condoned all such acts from day one, they invited the Western powers to kill the Afghans !

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  • David Salmon
    Aug 28, 2012 - 10:32PM

    For those thinking administrative punishment is too light: First, burning a book, even a holy book, is not normally a crime in the US. Second, urinating on a corpse also is not normally a crime in the US though it might be a crime under US military law, but administrative punishment is reasonable given that it will make clear to other soldiers that such actions will not be tolerated or overlooked. Third, administrative punishment can include letters of reprimand, which normally end the military career of anyone receiving one.Recommend

  • amir
    Aug 28, 2012 - 11:09PM

    this is american typical tactics to make the afghan hapy and put taliban on nagotiation

    and about america i thk the mrs clintn apologises in front of the whole world………Recommend

  • Aug 29, 2012 - 4:01AM

    While it is a very good and appreciable news that USA administration is finally waking up and started taking action against the perpetrators of numerous incidents where USA soldiers are violating the local cultures, desecrating scared books of Islam and even committing horrible acts of violence against innocent people all over the world.
    The big question still remains unanswered; Why do only USA soldiers behave in such a rowdy and uncivilized manner while stationed abroad, especially in Muslim countries? Is it because of their cowboy mentality, lack of proper education, discriminatory and often racist training manuals or because of their Christian upbringing?
    Any sober explanation?

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  • Insanity
    Aug 29, 2012 - 3:33PM

    This punishment is a joke, and its not given to calm down any of Afghan masses. Its just been given in the interest of US. They know theres an increase in the murders of their troops ever since.

    Secondly, I just wonder what is the mentality of American army towards Muslims. Who in the world would first kill someone and then urinate over his dead body, unless he possesses some real, extreme hatred towards that person or sect. And with that hatred we can’t see the peace to prevail any time soon. You can call Muslims as much terrorists as you want, but a Muslim no matter how barbaric he gets would never stoop to a level as low as this!

    Their armymen should have been severely punished if they are to stop any such cheap acts in the future, but that hardly seems an intention. The intention is to stop further occasional killing of their military men.

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  • David Salmon
    Aug 30, 2012 - 2:40AM

    @Bashy Quraishy:
    @Insanity:
    You have a naive view of both war and young men in war. As for whether Muslims could ever be guilty of such acts, are you old enough to remember 1971 and the Pakistan Army atrocities against the people of Bangladesh?

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  • Signe Jensen
    Oct 19, 2012 - 7:26PM

    why is he smiling? There is nothing to smile of or be proud of for that reason. he could at least show some respekt – be a human. You maybe got enemys – but remember they are humans too! I really don’t know how another human can act like that!

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