Marine Corps: 15 Drill Instructors Under Investigation After Alleged Suicide Of Muslim Recruit

The Marine Corps is looking into allegations of physical abuse, hazing, and assault brought forward against 15 drill instructors at the Parris Island recruit depot following a recruit’s March suicide, ABC News is reporting.

Marine officials revealed the allegations this Wednesday as the probe into the alleged suicide of Pakistani recruit Raheel Siddiqui, 20, continues. The Parris Island depot is a training ground for Marine recruits stationed east of the Mississippi River and sees recruits through a 13-week intensive boot camp.

The investigations, which started in November, are connected to the installation’s 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. Officials added that they were looking into other allegations including the poor supervision and handling of recruits. The drill instructors under investigation have all been reassigned to alternate duty posts that do not allow direct access to recruits.

The investigation into the misconduct of the drill instructors was as a result of the circumstances surrounding Siddiqui’s death. The 20-year-old from Taylor, Michigan died March 18 after falling three stories from a stairwell at the barracks. Siddiqui had just arrived at the facility a few days earlier.

A senior drill instructor who was in charge of supervising the 20-year-old had previously been accused of abusing another recruit and putting him in a clothes dryer. He had also accused of using racially abusive language because the recruit was Muslim.

Reports say that Siddiqui had just been revived after he passed out during a military drill and had been “smacked” by a drill instructor minutes before his death. Facts also revealed that the drill instructor in question was being investigated at the time of the incident and was improperly placed in charge of recruits at the time. Nabih Ayad, the lawyer for the family, described it as extremely odd that Siddiqui would choose to kill himself in the middle of a drill and in broad daylight. The family believes his death was not an intentional one.

The Marine Training and Education Command (TECOM), in a statement made available Wednesday, confirmed ongoing investigations against 15 drill instructors in a bid to “identify potential violations of Marine Corps orders.”

Major General James W. Lukeman, the commanding general of TECOM, saddled with the sole responsibility of disciplining anyone found culpable after the investigations, promised a thorough investigation and response.

“We take every allegation of misconduct very seriously and will review each investigation carefully. The safety of recruits and the integrity of Marine Corps recruit training program are among our top priorities and once investigations are complete we will take necessary administrative and judicial action to ensure proper accountability.”

Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, whose district includes Siddiqui’s hometown, has queried the Marine Corps on behalf of the recruit’s family. The Congresswoman wanted to know if the young recruit had been hazed, and if it had anything to do with his Pakistani heritage or Muslim faith. Officials have refused to provide specifics, citing that investigations are still ongoing.

Dingell said she understood the procedures involved but had a responsibility to the family to help them uncover the truth. Dingell had asked how long it would take the Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) to conclude their investigations.

Due to the scandal, several officers have been removed from their jobs, including Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Kissoon, who was in charge of the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, and his superior, Colonel Paul D. Cucinotta. Lukeman said it was important to remove the unit’s commanding officer from his position because there was a loss of confidence in his ability to continue to serve in the position.

Cucinotta’s senior adviser, Sergeant Major Nicholas Deabreu, was also relieved of his job.

[Image via Shutterstock/Glynnis Jones]