The fallout from the Koran burnings by U.S. service members last month continues.
Several U.S. soldiers have been killed. And on Monday, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of Bagram Airfield in retaliation for the incineration of Islam’s holy book.
A U.S. soldier currently deployed to Afghanistan shared his view of the situation with me.
Sergeant Nick Shively of the 172nd Infantry Brigade stationed in Paktika province, said:
“The insurgents used the Koran to write jihadists messages to pass to others. In doing so, they violated their own cultural practice and defiled the Koran.”
The holy books were confiscated from a U.S. prison, Parwan Detention Center at Bagram Airfield, after they were discovered to contain extremist messages and were mistakenly taken out with the office trash.
Sgt. Shively continued, “The insurgents turned the Koran into contraband. Therefore it’s ridiculous that we would even consider apologizing.”
Both General John Allen, the commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, and President Obama have issued apologies. It’s a move that could save lives as violent protests rage and an inquiry by U.S. military investigators confirms that five American service members were responsible for the fiery, accidental disposal of Korans at Parwan Detention Center.
It’s not the first time the prison has been at the center of U.S.-Afghan relations.
In January this year, President Karzai demanded the U.S. hand over the prison for the sake of Afghan sovereignty. The Washington Post reported that the Parwan Detention Center and its growing detainee population is regarded as a critical marker in the war’s endgame and a sign that Afghan officials are ready to inherit institutions essential to the nation’s future.
The recent Koran burnings there could give Karzai some leverage in his request for the U.S. to hand over the prison soon.