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U.S. Troops Use Burned Afghan Bodies As Propaganda

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful


CAIR calls for ‘top-to-bottom’ Pentagon policy, training review

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/20/2005) – A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today called on the Pentagon to conduct a “top-to-bottom” review of policies and training related to personnel in Muslim countries.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) made that request following allegations by an Australian television network that U.S. soldiers burned bodies of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and then used the bodies for propaganda purposes.

Australia’s SBS television network aired a “Dateline” segment on Wednesday showing U.S. soldiers burning the corpses of two Taliban fighters laid out facing Mecca, the focal point of prayer in Islam. According to the network, the bodies were burned for hygienic reasons, but a psychological operations unit used the burning to broadcast taunting messages to other Taliban fighters with loudspeakers.

Military officials called the report “repugnant” and said a probe has been launched “into alleged misconduct by U.S. service members, including the burning of dead enemy combatant bodies under inappropriate circumstances.” Afghan authorities demanded punishment for those responsible and Islamic leaders in that country warned of anti-American demonstrations.

Under the Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of enemy remains in wartime, soldiers must ensure that the “dead are honorably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged.” Islamic beliefs forbid cremation.

SEE: LA Times – “U.S. Looks Into Videotaped Desecration of Taliban Corpses”,0,4862635.story
AP – “U.S., Afghans Probe Alleged Desecration”
Reuters – “Australian TV Shows Footage of Taliban Burning”
SBS – “Psych War in Afghanistan”

“Given the growing number of such incidents involving American military personnel worldwide, it is imperative that the Pentagon launch a top-to-bottom review of policies and training to help prevent the war on terror from being perceived as a war on Islam,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.

He quoted a saying (hadith) of the Prophet Muhammad, who said: “Do not abuse the dead, for they have reached the result of what they have done.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari) Islam forbids the mutilation of bodies. According to Islamic tradition, a body is to be buried as quickly as possible, after having been washed and wrapped in clean cloth.

Awad said reports of abuses of Muslim prisoners and disregard for Islamic sensitivities in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanomo Bay’s Camp X-Ray are harming America’s image and serving as recruiting tools for terror groups.

He also warned against the “coarsening” of soldiers’ attitudes toward ordinary Muslims, both overseas and in this country. Awad cited the label “Hajji” used as a pejorative by U.S. troops in Iraq and the recent “porn-for-gore” scandal in which U.S. military personnel used photographs of Iraqi corpses as “currency” to gain access to Internet pornography.

SEE: “U.S. Troops Use Photos of Iraqi Corpses to Access Porn”

For the latest on that scandal, see:

“Those who serve overseas will eventually return home and interact with fellow Americans who are Muslims,” said Awad. “Military authorities should address the issue of Islamophobic attitudes in the ranks before the problem gets out of hand.” He said CAIR has already received at least one report of an assault on an American Muslim family in Pennsylvania by a person claiming to be a “Marine.”

CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 31 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

To read CAIR’s Mission, Vision Statement and Core Principles, go to:

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CONTACT: Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, E-Mail:

NOTE: CAIR offers an e-mail list designed to be a journalist’s window to the American Muslim community. Subscribers to the list, called ISLAM-INFONET, receive news releases and other materials dealing with American Muslim positions on issues of importance to our society.



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