Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Marines Instructors under Investigation after Death of Muslim Recruit

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Marines Instructors under Investigation after Death of Muslim Recruit

Article excerpt

The Marines have launched an internal investigation into staff at a boot camp in Parris Island, S.C., after Muslim recruit Raheel Siddiqui died in an apparent suicide 11 days after arriving. Fifteen drill instructors are now under investigation, as scrutiny increases of military practices that many believe cross the line from teasing, camaraderie, and toughening-up into danger.

The Parris Island drill instructors face allegations of hazing, assault, and physical abuse, the Marines announced Thursday. The probe into Mr. Siddiqui's death has sparked a wider investigation into wrongdoing in his training unit, known as the "Thumping Third Battalion," as The Wall Street Journal reported.

At the center of the investigation is Siddiqui's senior drill instructor, who was already under investigation for allegedly hazing minority recruits, including putting a previous Muslim recruit into a clothes dryer and making racially charged remarks.

"Existing orders, policies and procedures to prevent improper assignments were not followed," the Marine Corps said in a statement. "Interim corrective actions have already been taken."

Siddiqui fell three stories off of a stairwell in his barracks in an apparent suicide. His family has said he had no history of mental illness, according to the Journal.

After a week at boot camp, Siddiqui approached his senior drill instructor and said, "This recruit wants to quit and this recruit will commit suicide," according to an incident report the Marines gave to Siddiqui's family. (During boot camp, recruits are expected to speak about themselves in the third person.)

Siddiqui soon retracted that statement and said he was committed to training, however. Medical officials at the camp determined that he "did not have a verified suicidal ideation."

Four days later, Siddiqui passed out in his barracks during an exercise. His parents say investigators told them he had been trying to inform his superior of his deteriorating health, but the superior did not give him the opportunity to do so. After being waken by the senior drill instructor, Siddiqui ran out of the barracks fell three stories after jumping off the stairwell, the Journal reported. …

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