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Drill instructor connected to multiple allegations of abusing Muslim recruits

A drill instructor with the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., was allegedly involved in two separate infamous incidents involving Muslim recruits, Marine Corps Times has learned. 

The accused gunnery sergeant, whose name has not yet been revealed, is facing a March 16 Article 32 hearing "related to allegations associated with [the death of Marine Corps recruit] Raheel Siddiqui, as well as the other allegations surrounding the recruit in the dryer," said Capt. Joshua Pena, a spokesman for Marine Corps Training and Education Command. 

The hearing comes a year after the March 18, 2016 death of recruit Siddiqui, 20, who initially was thought to have committed suicide when he plummeted nearly 40 feet from a barracks stairwell. A subsequent investigation was unable to determine whether Siddiqui intended to take his own life or whether he fell while attempting to evade an incensed drill instructor. 

In the separate 2015 dryer incident, the drill instructor allegedly forced a Muslim recruit to exercise in the shower, an investigation found. The recruit was then ordered to climb into a commercial dryer, which the drill instructor reportedly then turned on, only providing an occasional respite from the torment to insult the recruit and his religion. During the sequence, the drill instructor allegedly asked the recruit if he took part in the Sept. 11 attacks. 

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Marine officials are investigating about 15 drill instructors and affiliated leadership at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., for possible violations of orders on hazing and physical abuse following a recruit’s death there.
Photo Credit: Marine Corps

A second drill instructor, a sergeant, has also been implicated in the 2015 incident. "The sergeant's charges are related to allegations surrounding the recruit in the dryer," Capt. Pena said, adding he was not involved in the "allegations associated with Raheel Siddiqui." 

The cases attest to a disturbing culture of hazing in the Marine Corps, sending shockwaves throughout a service that preaches honor and accountability. And there's no immediate end in sight. 

Four additional Marines assigned to Parris Island have also been charged with offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice:

  • Staff Sgt. Antonio B. Burke has been charged with maltreatment, falsifying an official statement, failure to obey a lawful order and disobeying a noncommissioned officer.
  • Staff Sgt. Matthew T. Bacchus has been charged with maltreatment, violation of a lawful order and falsifying an official statement.
  • Staff Sgt. Jose Lucena-Martinez has been charged with failure to obey a lawful general order and falsifying an official statement.
  • Sgt. Riley R. Gress has been charged with maltreatment, failure to obey a lawful order and falsifying an official statement. 

Burke is facing a general court-martial for his actions, with the date and time for arraignment pending. Special courts-martial are being implemented for the other three, with motion dates set for later this month and early April.

Meanwhile, as proceedings progress deliberately in each case, the Siddiqui family awaits justice for Raheel, adamant in their belief that he would never take his own life.

"This has been a very long and painful wait for the family," the Siddiqui family attorney said. "But I assure you, Raheel’s voice and the truth did not die with him."

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