Twenty Marine Corps personnel face possible discipline or criminal charges after investigations into the death of a 20-year-old Muslim recruit from Taylor found multiple violations of policies and procedures at a key recruiting outpost, including indications that Raheel Siddiqui was physically abused and called a “terrorist” by his drill sergeant.
Marine officials told the Free Press on Thursday that while Siddiqui’s death was a suicide as initially reported by the Corps, an alleged assault by his drill sergeant, who forced Siddiqui to repeatedly run the length of a squad bay and slapped him, was the likely impetus for his jumping over a wall and falling three floors to his death in a stairwell on March 18.
Siddiqui, according to the officials, who did not speak for attribution because the report had not been released publicly, had threatened suicide days before his death but was still returned to training, with others in his company failing to report allegations he had made of physical abuse. Siddiqui had been just 11 days into his training at Parris Island, S.C., when he died.
The attorney for the Taylor family, Shiraz Khan, released a statement Thursday on their behalf to the Free Press that said there are still “too many questions that remain unanswered.”
“In light of the recent release by the United States Marine Corps Command Investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the death…the Siddiqui family and their lawyer…are currently reviewing the findings and will determine their next course of action.”
“At this time we acknowledge the efforts of the United States Marine Corps,” the statement added. “However, there are too many questions that remain unanswered. We will work with NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) as they move forward with their investigation.”
The death of Siddiqui has alarmed Muslim-American and civil rights advocates who expressed concern that he may have been targeted because of his faith and ethnicity. Siddiqui was Muslim and of Pakistani descent.
“The family is very concerned that his religion could have played a major role in the trainer’s conduct against” Siddiqui, a previous family attorney Nabih Ayad told the Free Press in June.
Reports that more than a dozen Marine personnel at the Parris Island training depot could be relieved of duty or face other discipline had circulated for months following Siddiqui’s death. A top official there lost his post in early June. As recently as July, it appeared 15 drill instructors or other personnel were being looked at through the command investigation.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on news of the investigations’ conclusions on Thursday, along with the allegations regarding Siddiqui’s drill instructor.
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SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, Todd Spangler and Niraj Warikoo