US admits to Quran abuse

T V Parasuram in Washington | June 04, 2005 23:34 IST

The United States has admitted that some instances of desecration of the Quran did take place at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, official sources said on Saturday.

The soldiers did abuse the Muslim holy book by kicking it, getting its copies wet and standing on it during interrogation, they added.

The revelations emerged after a three-week inquiry made by Brigadier General Jay W Hood, Commander of the Joint Task Force, Guantanamo Brigade into the alleged desecration.

The probe was triggered by a Newsweek report, which was later retracted, that a US soldier had flushed a detainee's Quran in a toilet.

Hood confirmed five cases of 'intentional or unintentional' mishandling of the holy book, which appear to be unrelated, from among 19 alleged incidents since the detention facility opened in January 2002.

"Mishandling a Quran at Guantanamo Bay is never condoned," Hood said in the statement on Friday night.

Hood characterised the incidents as rare, isolated and largely inadvertent and said that an interrogator who stepped on the book had been sacked for 'a pattern of unacceptable behaviour'.

The first case of desecration in February 2002, according to the US Southern Command, arose when a detainee complained that guards at Camp X-Ray kicked the Quran of a detainee in a neighbouring cell. Although interrogators and guards noted the incident at the time, there was no further investigation.

In another case, two detainees complained to their guards that a number of copies of the Quran were wet 'because the night shift guards had thrown water balloons on the block'.

Hood's team determined the complaints to be credible and found 'no evidence that the incident, although clearly inappropriate, caused any type of disturbance on the block'.

Other confirmed reports included a two-word obscenity being written in the inside cover of a Quran, though investigators were unable to determine who wrote the phrase.

His investigation also found 15 incidents of detainees desecrating the Quran.

Many of the cases involved detainees ripping up their own copies, throwing the book or its pages out of their cells, or trying to deface a Quran belonging to another detainee.


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