Quran burning: Were prisoners hiding extremist messages in books?
The Pentagon has launched an investigation into the Quran burning at a US detention facility in Afghanistan. Prisoners might have used the books to pass secret messages, a spokesman says.
The US military is now investigating whether American military officials ordered Qurans to be destroyed because prisoners at a US detention facility were passing extremist messages in them, an International Security Assistance Force spokesman said Wednesday.
â€śWe havenâ€™t got any proof of that yet, and that is a vital part of the investigation that is ongoing,â€ť Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson said in a Pentagon briefing Wednesday.
Indeed, the entire library of the Parwan Detention Facility at Bagram Air Base, one of the largest US military facilities in Afghanistan, may have been ordered destroyed because of the extremist messages contained in texts, he added.
â€śIt was a considerable amount of material,â€ť General Jacobson said, though he added that he â€ścannot sayâ€ť if it was the â€śentireâ€ť library.
There have been some 2,000 demonstrators around Bagram Air Base, as well as â€śattempts to enterâ€ť the base, he said, adding that there was â€śnear penetrationâ€ť of the base.Â
There have been fatalities north and east of Kabul in demonstrations around the Quran burnings.Â
â€śIt is a grave mistake,â€ť Jacobson told reporters in a briefing Wednesday, â€śand weâ€™re all aware of the grave implications this mistake has.â€ť
He also acknowledged â€śconsiderable angerâ€ť among Afghans.
Indeed, demonstrators have burned tires and thrown stones. There have also been â€śshots fired,â€ť at some of the installations, Jacobson said.
â€śDesecrating the Quran â€“ mistreating the Quran â€“ is a grave incident in the Muslim world. As we are not only here to protect human rights but also religious freedom ... this is a grave incident.â€ť
Guards along the base have responded with rubber bullets, he added.
Demonstrations outside Bagram have centered on half-charred Qurans brought out by workers.
Afghan night shift workers at Bagram attempted to stop the burning of the Qurans, showed the books to their day shift colleagues, and brought the Qurans off-base.Â
â€śThat is when material left the facility,â€ť Jacobson said.
In addition to extremist messages written on Qurans, prisoners at the US detention facility may have been circulating leaflets â€śthat held inflammatory material,â€ť Jacobsen said.Â
The question remains, he adds, â€śHow did Qurans come into this material that was then taken into the burn pit?â€ť
The investigation will also look into whether NATO officials exercised â€śmisjudgment,â€ť or knowingly gave the order to destroy Qurans. â€śWho basically told soldiers to take it and dispose of it in an improper way?â€ť Jacobson said.
In response to the US militaryâ€™s perhaps inadvertent burning of Qurans that has prompted two days worth of riots across the country, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan has promised new training for troops in the handling of religious materials.Â
This training will take place over the next two weeks, says Gen. John Allen, commander of US and NATO forces. The training will include the identification of religious materials, their significance, and the correct handling and storage of such materials.
In the meantime, the mammoth challenge now is to try to convince Afghan government officials and, most importantly, the people of Afghanistan â€śhow sorry we are about this happening,â€ť Jacobson said, and to â€śexplain that this is a mistake.â€ťÂ