Source: The Wall Street Journal
The death of a young Muslim-American recruit at boot camp is at the heart of an investigation gripping the U.S. Marine Corps, and raising serious questions about practices at its vaunted, 101-year-old training facility at Parris Island, S.C.
A Marine Corps investigation into the death of 20-year-old Raheel Siddiqui has sparked a broader probe into possible wrongdoing in the same training battalion, extending to allegations beyond his case, Marine Corps officials said.
As part of the larger inquiry, approximately 15 drill instructors from Mr. Siddiqui’s Parris Island battalion are under internal investigation over allegations of hazing, physical abuse, assault and failure of supervision, the Marines said.
Other officials also are affected. The Marines already have removed the commanding officer of Mr. Siddiqui’s training regiment and its senior enlisted adviser. In addition, the general in command of Parris Island and the Eastern Recruiting Region at the time of his death has been assigned to a post in Quantico, Va., instead of being sent to a sought-after command position in Okinawa, Japan, according to Marine officials. The service declined to make the affected officers available for comment, citing the continuing investigation.
Mr. Siddiqui died on March 18, just eleven days after arriving at Parris Island, when he fell three stories off a barracks stairwell in an incident the Marine Corps deemed an apparent suicide. His death prompted the service to look more closely at Mr. Siddiqui’s unit, the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, which some Marines call the “Thumping Third Battalion” for its reputation of heavy-handed behavior toward recruits. The service said it has turned up questionable incidents dating back to November 2015.
Mr. Siddiqui’s death is now at the center of three investigations: the internal Marine Corps inquiry, a Naval Criminal Investigative Service probe and a U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery review. All of the investigations remain under way.
Marine Corps officials haven’t specified whether Mr. Siddiqui’s ethnic or religious background affected his treatment at Parris Island or played any role in his death.