More detail on the Koran disposal

Here, from the Detroit Free Press, is a much fuller account of the incineration of Islamic religious books that set off the deadly riots. It was not a few books. It was about 1,600 books, at least scores of them being Korans. Note, however, that key parts of the story—that U.S. officers lied when they said the books would be stored, not burned, and that there were no extremist inscriptions on the books that were saved—are being told by an Afghan who is on President Karzai’s committee investigating the incident.

The incident started when the books and other Islamic texts that a U.S. military official said had extremist inscriptions were removed from the library at the Parwan Detention Facility and then taken to the burn pit at the adjoining Bagram Air Field.

The U.S. military official said last week that it appeared detainees were exchanging messages by making notations in the texts. The Western official confirmed reports that after the writings were discovered, two Afghan-American interpreters were assigned to go through the materials at the library and that 1,652 items were removed.

The items, which included the Qurans, were placed in boxes and the Western official confirmed that a decision was taken to dispose of them because of a lack of storage space and because of the notes scribbled in them.

At some point a group of soldiers on a work detail came and removed the books to throw them away. The Western official told the AP the three soldiers on the garbage detail had no idea what they were carrying. Although some of the material was thrown into the burn pit before it was removed by Afghan workers, none of material was completely destroyed.

He said U.S. officials told them that they were suspicious about the notes inside the books and that they also suspected that a bookseller, who had a contract to take care of the library, was moving books containing messages in and out of the facility so that detainees could communicate with others outside the prison.

U.S. officials told the bookseller not to show up for work on the day that two translators were told to find books on the library shelves that were extremist in nature or had handwritten inscriptions inside, he said. He said the translators told the Afghan delegation that U.S. officials had told them that the books pulled from the shelves were headed for storage.

Dad, one of Afghan religious leaders on the Karzai-appointed panel, said the books were kept in a place where refuse is picked up and taken to a garbage burn pit on the base. When Afghan workers at the base noticed that they were religious books, they notified an Afghan army commander on the base. The commander questioned U.S. troops about the books and was told that they were going to be stored, he said. The commander was satisfied with that answer and left, Dad said. A short time later, when the Afghan workers saw the books at the burn pit, they shouted and ran back to the Afghan commander. The workers and two Afghan officers rescued 216 of the books, including 48 Qurans, from being burned, Dad said. They were shouting and pulling the books from the burn pit so the U.S. troops didn’t throw the remaining four cartons of books into the fire, he said.

“They lied to the Afghan workers and the Afghan National Army officers, telling them they were going to store the books in a container and then they went and burned the books. If it was not intentional, they would not have lied,” Dad said.

During the investigation, Dad said the team examined some of the books that were not destroyed. In the ones he saw, some detainees had written their name, their father’s name, their inmate identification numbers and the date they were detained. Some of the books written in Arabic had definitions of Arabic words scribbled in Dari or Pashto, the two Afghan languages.

“I didn’t see anything that suggested that messages were being exchanged between prisoners or with outsiders,” he said.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 04, 2012 01:59 PM | Send

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