Closing the Book on Koran Abuse (FrontPageMagazine.com) By Paul Sperry 05/23/05)
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Despite what rioting Islamic fanatics around the world want to
believe, the U.S. did not authorize any interrogators to desecrate
the Koran to rattle Muslim detainees at Gitmo—at least not according
to a military intelligence memo I´ve obtained.
Distributed in early 2003 by an Army JAG officer, the sensitive
internal document lists approved techniques for interrogating Taliban
and al-Qaida detainees at the for interrogating Taliban and al-Qaida
detainees at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo, Cuba, and none
of those techniques include defiling the book Muslims hold sacred. No
flushing it down the commode or laying it in the toilet seat; not
stomping or spitting on it.
"That would be a really dumb-assed approach," asserts an Army
intelligence officer who interrogated the detainees and leaked the
document to me. It would only anger them and harden their resolve not
to talk. "I can´t think of a good angle where tearing up the Koran or
mishandling it would be helpful," concurs another veteran Army
Instead, interrogators used the Koran and other religious items as an
incentive for cooperating with them, a smart tactic that was approved
by high command for Gitmo detainees. Those who cooperated got copies
of the Koran and even finger prayer beads, and were also allowed to
keep their bushy beards, which Islamists wear as a sign of devotion
to their faith. Those who didn´t cooperate were denied such
privileges, and even that relatively mild tactic was banned by the
end of 2003 thanks to complaints lodged through the Red Cross.
The interrogation policy is spelled out in a Jan. 8, 2003, memo
written by a JAG officer and circulated among Army intelligence
officials at Gitmo, the Bagram base in Afghanistan, and U.S. Central
Command in Tampa. "At GTMO there is authorization to use the
following techniques in interrogation," advises Lt. Col. Daeyvid S.
O´Lochlayne. Listed among Category II interrogation techniques for
uncooperative detainees are:
*"Removal of comfort items, including religious items;"
*"Forced grooming (i.e., shaving of facial hair)."
The two techniques appear to be the only ones tied to religion. And
according to the written policy, interrogators were barred from
applying them without the permission of their commanders.
By August 2003, the practice of using religious items to motivate
cooperation among detainees stopped, something even the Red Cross
confirms in its February 2004 report on treatment of prisoners in
Iraq. "Since August 2003, the detainees have been provided the
Koran," it notes. Prayer beads also were no longer withheld.
"Command pansied out on that and just issued them to everybody,"
grouses one Army interrogator—“despite Geneva Conventions stating
that a detaining power is only required to return identification."
(Lest anyone shed a tear for Gitmo detainees temporarily deprived of
religious comfort items, they should remember that they were captured
after 9/11 as enemy combatants who might have information about
future terrorist attacks. U.S. intelligence believed getting them to
talk was critical to the safety of Americans.)
And contrary to foreign notions that our military deliberately
defiled the Koran, the Pentagon specifically banned such acts around
the same time it OK´d the interrogation techniques. On Jan. 19, 2003,
it issued rules requiring that the Koran not be placed on "the floor,
near the toilet or sink, near the feet, or dirty/wet areas."
This is in keeping with long-standing Army doctrine. One rule of
interaction with enemy prisoners of war states: "Respect religious
articles and materials."
Far from desecrating the Koran, Gitmo authorities passed it out along
with prayer beads and halal meals amid calls to prayer. That´s right:
Hewing to politically correct norms, the infidel captors of these
poor oppressed Islamic supremacists bent over backwards to
accommodate their religious needs.
Early in 2002, they brought in a Muslim chaplain by the name of
Abuhena M. Saifulislam to minister to them around the clock. He
passed out paperback Korans, called detainees to prayer, counseled
them in Arabic and Urdu and even trained Gitmo guards in Muslim
sensitivity. In a touching tribute to his Muslim brothers,
Saifulislam even made sure they received pork-free meals. And upon
his recommendation, Gitmo detainees were treated to a traditional
meal of dates and lamb after sunset at the end of Eid al-Adha, the
Islamic Feast of Sacrifice.
Meanwhile, a section of an Army training guide I obtained
titled "Cultural Awareness-Islam 101" orders American troops deployed
in Muslim countries not to "eat or smoke in public during their holy
periods when they are fasting." It even admonishes them to hide their
religious beliefs around Muslims. "Don´t try to convert an Arab to
your religion," it warns. "Don´t display religious items."
So the bad guys behind barbed wire can be religious—but not our
That in mind, it´s hard to see how genuinely offended the Muslim
population could be down there at Gitmo, and by extension Afghanistan
and Pakistan. For the most part, we catered to their religious needs,
ironically nourishing the very source of the murderous hatred that
got them locked up in the first place.
Paul Sperry, a Hoover Institution media fellow and Investor´s
Business Daily veteran, is author of the just-released book,
INFILTRATION: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated
Washington (Nelson Current, 2005). He can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. (©2005 FrontPageMagazine.com 05/23/05)
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