BAGHDAD_A U.S. Army soldier was removed from Iraq after he shot a Quran full of bullets and marked it with graffiti, the U.S. military announced Sunday.
By Raviya H. Ismail McClatchy Newspapers
U.S. military officials, fearing a backlash as a result of the desecration moved quickly to resolve the case after Iraqi police found the desecrated book May 11 at a shooting range in the predominantly Sunni Muslim area of Radwaniya in western Baghdad.
They briefed tribal leaders on their investigation and expressed regret for the damage to the Quran, the Islamic holy book. » read m
Sunday, May 18, 2008
BAGHDAD_A U.S. Army soldier was removed from Iraq after he shot a Quran full of bullets and marked it with graffiti, the U.S. military announced Sunday.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 4:29 PM
MORE ON US SOLDIER USING QURAN FOR TARGET PRACTICE AND INCIDENTS OF VIOLENCE ACROSS IRAQ AND MORTAR ATTACK ON GREEN ZONE
Here is the latest information on the US soldier who used the Quran for target practice. We also have reports of violence across Iraq and another attack on the Green Zone.
Despite all this that is happening in Iraq, the mainstream media and FOX NEWS continue to BS the American public that the "surge" is working.
Reported Security IncidentsBaghdad Reports on the violence overnight in Sadr City are sketchy. Reuters merely reports that "Four people were killed and 38 others wounded in clashes between security forces and Shi'ite militiamen in Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, police and hospital sources said. However, Israel News says specifically that "Mortar shells slammed into a residential area north of Baghdad, killing at least four people and wounding 30, most children playing outside, officials said Sunday." The AP photo caption above http://warnewstoday.blogspot.com/ says that 5 children were killed in a mortar strike in Sadr City, which is not "north of Baghdad," but rather in the northeastern part of Baghdad. Whether these reports all refer to the same incident, and how many total casualties there were, is not clear at this time. The AP has numerous other photos of children with severe injuries in the hospital. Xinhua now reports a total of six dead in Sadr City. If the situation becomes clearer, I'll post an update later in the day.
-- C Reuters also reports:
A mortar bomb wounded four people in Iskan district in western Baghdad, police said.
Five bodies were found in various districts of Baghdad on Saturday, police said.
U.S. forces killed two militants who tried to attack them in northwestern Baghdad, the U.S. military said.A fire erupted in al-Amil neighborhood souk (market), southwestern Baghdad, on Sunday after U.S. forces detonated an improvised explosive device (IED), gutting a number of stores in the area, an Iraqi police source said. The U.S. had no comment on the matter.
Two soldiers were killed and four others wounded when a roadside car bomb went off near an Iraqi army patrol on al-Rubaie street, eastern Baghdad, on Sunday, an Iraqi police source said.
KUNA reports three dead.Four katyusha rockets strike Green Zone, no casualties reported.Roadside bomb targeting a U.S. convoy in central Baghdad injures three civilians.Bomb in a minibus injures twoAt least one civilian was killed and another wounded on Saturday evening when a roadside bomb exploded near an Iraqi army vehicle patrol in northern Baghdad, a police source said. This was reported too late to make yesterday's post.
Khan Bani Saad (south of Baquba)A senior officer from the Iraqi army was killed on Saturday during clashes with armed groups in Diala province, central Iraq, a security source said. The deceased held the rank of colonel. Two other soldiers were injured. Again, this was reported too late for yesterday's post.U.S. forces killed six militants and destroyed a weapons cache in an airstrike in the town of Khan Bani Saad, near Baquba, the U.S. military said. Presumably supporting the Iraqi army action in that town which resulted in the casualties yesterday.al-Rashad, Kirkuk areaIraqi troops arrest police chief on charges of collaborating with "armed groups." No explanation is given, but it's a fair bet this has something to do with the Arab-Kurdish territorial dispute.
-- CBasraIraqi police say they have carried out raids and confiscated mortar rounds and automatic rifles. Actually the list of confiscated weapons doesn't sound very impressive -- 88 mortar shells and 40 rifles. -- CNotable by its absence: any news from Mosul. The big operation there apparently turned out to be a wet firecracker. We'll see what happens in the days ahead. Other News of the DayA U.S. Army staff sergeant in Radhwaniya writes "Fuck yeah" inside a Koran, draws a target on the cover, uses it for target practice, and leaves it for Iraqis to find. It's too soon to tell what the wider reaction will be. CNN's Michael Ware describes the apology by Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, which appears to have been accepted by the local Shawa, at least for now.
A former college quarterback, Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, stood facing the angry crowd. His face was grim and fixed as tribal sheikhs swirled around him."I am a man of honor, I am a man of character. You have my word, this will never happen again," the general told the angry crowd through loudspeakers, pounding the makeshift podium three times with his fist."In the most humble manner, I look in to your eyes today and I say, please forgive me and my soldiers." The act of his sniper was criminal, he said. "I've come to this land to protect you, to support you...this soldier has lost the honor to serve the United States Army and the people of Iraq here in Baghdad."Martin stood before the crowd next, opening his address with an Islamic blessing. He announced the sergeant had been relieved of duty with prejudice; reprimanded by the commanding general with a memorandum of record attached to his military record; dismissed from the regiment and redeployed from the brigade.Holding a new Quran in his hands, he turned to the crowd. "I hope that you'll accept this humble gift." Martin kissed the Quran and touched it to his forehead as he handed it to the tribal elders. The crowd's voice rose, "Yes, yes, to the Quran. No, no, to the devil."But would it be enough to appease the mood in Radhwaniya? A local sheikh came to the microphone. "In the name of all the sheikhs," he said, "we declare we accept the apology that was submitted."This news has just broken, so I have found very little commentary about it. No doubt there will be further discussion as the day goes on. This Muslim American blogger expects serious repercussions.
Iraqi military spokesman announces intention to restore basic services to Sadr City. We'll see.Iraqi oil exports fell by nearly 3 million barrels in April, ostensibly because of the fighting in Basra. Nancy Pelosi leaves Iraq, with minimal public comment.
Quote of the Day
[J]ump to September 11, 2001 and its aftermath -- and you know the Tai Chi version of history from there. Think of it as a grim cosmic joke -- that the 9/11 attacks, as apocalyptic as they looked, were anything but. The true disasters followed and the wounds were largely self-inflicted, as the most militarily powerful nation on the planet used its own force to disable itself.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 2:20 PM
US military says soldier shot at Quran
By KIM GAMEL Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD (AP) -- A soldier used a Quran, the Islamic holy book, for target practice in a predominantly Sunni area west of Baghdad, prompting an apology from the military, a spokesman said Sunday.
Iraqi police found the bullet-riddled Quran with graffiti inside the cover on a small-arms range near a police station in Radwaniyah, a former insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad, U.S. military spokesman Col. Bill Buckner said.
American commanders then launched an inquiry that led to disciplinary action against the soldier, who has been removed from Iraq, Buckner said.
The action, which happened May 9 and was discovered two days later, threatened to further strain relations between the Americans and Sunni allies who have joined forces with them against al-Qaida in Iraq in Radwaniyah and other areas.
The incident was first reported by CNN, which broadcast a ceremony at which the top American commander in Baghdad apologized to tribal leaders in Radwaniyah. The military confirmed the details in an e-mailed response to a query.
"I come before you here seeking your forgiveness," Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond was quoted as saying. "In the most humble manner I look in your eyes today and I say please forgive me and my soldiers."
The commander also read a letter of apology by the shooter, and another military official kissed a Quran and presented it to the tribal leaders, according to CNN.
The military statement called the incident "serious and deeply troubling" but stressed it was a result of one soldier's actions and "not representative of the professionalism of our soldiers or the respect they have for all faiths."
Separately, mortar shells slammed into a residential area north of Baghdad, killing at least four people and wounding 30, most of them children playing outside, officials said Sunday.
The shelling occurred as clashes broke out in Shiite areas late Saturday despite a truce reached last week by Shiite politicians and followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
The Sunni alliances have been key to a steep decline in violence over the past year, along with a U.S. troop buildup and a longer term cease-fire by al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.
Bandaged girls and boys with bloodstained clothes cried as they were packed two to a bed at a hospital in Sadr City, a Shiite stronghold where most of the recent fighting has occurred.
At least three mortar rounds struck a house, an open area and a street where boys were playing soccer in the Maamil neighborhood on Baghdad's northeastern outskirts, witnesses said.
Those killed included a man and three children, according to police and hospital officials who also said at least 30 people were wounded.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 8:19 AM
When a gunshot-riddled Quran is found, a tenuous partnership is threatened
U.S. military officers apologize to authorities, citizens in Iraqi village
In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents share their experiences in covering news and analyze the stories behind the events.
CNN's Michael Ware covers the Iraq war.
CNN's Michael Ware says the Quran incident could have become a crisis.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- What the Iraqi fighter found threatened America's vital alliance with Sunni militia.
A week ago in a police station shooting range on Baghdad's western outskirts, the American-allied Iraqi militiaman found what one or more GIs had been using for target practice -- a copy of the Quran, Islam's holy book.
Riddled with bullets, the rounds piercing deep into the thick volume, the pages were shredded. Turning the holy book in his hands, the man found two handwritten English words, scrawled in pen. "F*** yeah."
The discovery was incendiary. It was an affront to Islam and a serious challenge to the religious credentials of the U.S-allied militias, or Awakening Councils, who turned on al-Qaeda and are now on the U.S. government payroll. Watch villagers protest the incident »
Largely moderate Sunnis, the American-backed militias face constant accusations from Islamic groups that they have turned against Islam to support the cause of the infidels, or nonbelievers. If this indignity had gone unanswered, the Islamists' case would have been won.
Abdullah, the militiaman who found the defaced Quran, complained to his superiors. Soon, there was outrage among the tribes and population of Radhwaniya, a semi-rural area long home to loyalists of the former regime of Saddam Hussein.
Word of what the Americans had done rippled throughout the district and the fury spread. Honor was at stake, and the urge for a violent response against the insult was strong. However, tribal leaders made an approach to American commanders in the region. "Honestly, we have to defend our religion," said Sheikh Saad al-Falahi, "and relations [with the U.S.] would deteriorate if they did not apologize."
Soldier uses Quran for target practice
Having fought and then negotiated so hard and for so long to quiet the insurgency in Radhwaniya, American commanders were wary of the potential crisis.
The U.S. 4th Infantry Division is posted in Baghdad and surrounds; many of its commanders and soldiers are veterans of the Iraq campaign. Col. Ted Martin, commander of the Division's 1st Brigade, immediately launched an investigation, promising the tribal leaders a swift outcome.
Investigators soon identified the Army section that had been at the police station's small arms range, and a staff sergeant, a sniper section leader from the 64th Armor Regiment, was the primary suspect. After denying involvement, the sergeant eventually confessed, though he claimed he had no idea the book used for target practice was a Quran. Martin dismissed the excuse.
On Saturday, about a week after the incident (locals say the shooting practice was on May 9, U.S. forces say the Quran was discovered May 11), CNN was present for the showdown in Radwaniyeh as the Americans faced the tribes.
U.S. commanders arrived at a police outpost in heavily armored vehicles to be met by a human tempest; hundreds of chanting tribesmen lined up behind razor wire, offering their blood and souls in sacrifice for the Quran.
A former college quarterback, Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, stood facing the angry crowd. His face was grim and fixed as tribal sheikhs swirled around him.
"I am a man of honor, I am a man of character. You have my word, this will never happen again," the general told the angry crowd through loudspeakers, pounding the makeshift podium three times with his fist.
"In the most humble manner, I look in to your eyes today and I say, please forgive me and my soldiers." The act of his sniper was criminal, he said. "I've come to this land to protect you, to support you...this soldier has lost the honor to serve the United States Army and the people of Iraq here in Baghdad."
Martin stood before the crowd next, opening his address with an Islamic blessing. He announced the sergeant had been relieved of duty with prejudice; reprimanded by the commanding general with a memorandum of record attached to his military record; dismissed from the regiment and redeployed from the brigade.
Holding a new Quran in his hands, he turned to the crowd. "I hope that you'll accept this humble gift." Martin kissed the Quran and touched it to his forehead as he handed it to the tribal elders. The crowd's voice rose, "Yes, yes, to the Quran. No, no, to the devil."
But would it be enough to appease the mood in Radhwaniya? A local sheikh came to the microphone. "In the name of all the sheikhs," he said, "we declare we accept the apology that was submitted."
With hands shaken and sheepish thank-yous made, the general and the colonel returned to their armored convoy. The crisis, it seems, was averted.
The stakes, though, had been high. If accord had not been found, says Sheikh Ayad Abd al-Jabbar, head of the local Support Council, it could have been dire.
"Then surely the situation would have changed in another direction and more tension will have risen up, after all the cooperation with the Americans to restore security."
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 5:51 AM