Investigation Finds Dereliction of Duty in Quran Burnings
Senior U.S. Army officers at one of Afghanistan’s largest military bases were “derelict in their duties” when they oversaw the removal and attempted incineration of 474 copies of the Quran in a February incident that sparked days of deadly riots, according to a special investigation.
The report, released Monday, said commanders in a National Guard unit responsible for security at Bagram Airfield—along with rank-and-file troops—repeatedly failed to consider the implications of a botched attempt to purge the prison library of books used by detainees to trade messages and notes.
The official examination offered the U.S. military’s most extensive explanation of the Quran burnings, which led to disciplinary action on Monday against six members of the Army, including senior leadership of a National Guard battalion that oversaw the attempted destruction of the religious books.
“It all came down to a lapse in leadership,” said Army spokesman Col. Jonathan Withington. “As leaders, these individuals have a requirement to ensure proper actions through supervision and enforcing standards.”
The incident ignited nationwide riots that left more than three dozen people, including two U.S. soldiers, dead. President Barack Obama apologized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who demanded that the Americans face public trial in his country.