Concerning Those Burned Qu’rans At Bagram Air Base

BY Herschel Smith
5 years ago

It is easy to lose count of the number of administration officials who have issued groveling, pitiful “apologies” over the burned Qu’rans at Bagram Air Base.  But take note that our apologies aren’t sufficient.  The protests are still active, they are spreading to Pakistan, and Iran wants more – a lot more.  It’s ironic how we see things through Western, secular eyes concerning issues pertaining to religious pre-commitments.  Our apologies are so serious, so heartfelt, so sincere, so sober – and so completely irrelevant to the Muslim world.

Iran wants the officers who made this decision to pay a hefty price.

In a move likely to irk tension between Iran and United States, a top Iranian military commander said on Saturday that nothing short of burning the White House and hanging American military commanders can compensate for the burning of Qurans at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan last week.

“The U.S. has committed such an ugly act and burnt Qurans because of the heavy slap it has been given by Islam,” commander of Iran’s Basij force, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi told the semi-official Fars news agency.

So we punish the officers who made this decision according to Sharia law, we torch the White House, and we completely withdraw from Afghanistan, and then perhaps the Iranian generals will be appeased.

But also take careful note why the copies of the Qu’ran were burned in the first place.

As riots over the accidental improper disposal of the Koran led to seven deaths by Wednesday, two senior NATO military officials stressed that it was because of clandestine communications written into the Korans in the first place that a decision was made to have them destroyed by U.S. troops.

Afghan detainees at Bagram Air Base wrote inside Korans as a method for passing messages to fellow detainees, defacing the holy books in a manner considered blasphemous within Islam, the officials said, speaking to Fox News exclusively.

[ … ]

A second official said that local religious leaders who came to look at the damaged material as part of an investigation into the incident were “shocked by what they saw.”

Pages of the Korans contained many handwritten messages and in some cases printed notes were found inside the books. This official described the messages as “extremist” in nature.

This entire incident has as its root cause the fact that rather than killing the insurgents on the field of battle, we imprisoned them in hopes of rehabilitating them and releasing them to return to productive lives in the service of greater Afghanistan.

Ah.  Those Western ideals at work again.  How sweet.  But in reality, prisons in counterinsurgency are opportunities for rest and relaxation, a chance to be fed and to receive good medical care, and a safe haven to recruit and radicalize other insurgents.

These copies of the Qu’ran should have been burned, but Afghans should never have been involved.  In fact, the prisons, which are currently full to overflowing with radicalized Islamists and criminals soon to be released when the U.S. exits Afghanistan (or sooner if the prisons are turned over to Afghan authorities), should completely go out of business.  We should have been killing these fighters rather than giving them the opportunity to concoct further plans for harm to U.S. troops.

All of this – and more – is why I have recommended that we withdraw from Afghanistan.  We simply don’t have a clue what it takes to win the campaign in this region of the world.  For future campaigns, we should take note yet again that prisons really, really don’t work in counterinsurgency.

As if all of this isn’t enough, we may yet sacrifice the careers of some of the officers in the service of Islam.

NATO officials promised to meet Afghan nation’s demand of bringing to justice, through an open trial, those responsible for the incident and it was agreed that the perpetrators of the crime be brought to justice as soon as possible.

Sad beyond belief.

UPDATE #1: Many thanks to Glenn Reynolds for his attention to this.


Night Raids, Prisons, Politics and the Afghanistan Strategy

The Long Term Effects of Prisons in Counterinsurgency

The Great Escape – In Afghanistan!

Because Prisons Work So Well In Counterinsurgency

Afghan Prison An Insurgent Breeding Ground

Prisons Do Not Work In Counterinsurgency

The Ineffectiveness of Prisons in Counterinsurgency

Jirgas and Release of Taliban Prisoners

Prisons in Afghanistan

Prisons in Counterinsurgency

Leave a Reply

23 Comments on "Concerning Those Burned Qu’rans At Bagram Air Base"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

Say what?? We’re going to prosecute our officers and others for burning goddamn Korans??? Since when did the UCMJ incorporate sharia law?

John Cunningham

a clear solution presents itself–a fighting withdrawal, and carpet bombing of anything that moves. for the future, only punitive expeditions into the Muslim world-kill anything that moves, or that shows up on infrared.

Eran Zamir
Unfortunately, I have to agree. If you had asked me a year ago about what we should do, I would have said that we should stay in Afghanistan, but with a completely new strategy – one designed to wipe out the Taliban and gradually win the hearts of the Afghans to our side, even it it takes years. I believed that this would be in our interest, since we do not want Afghanistan to become a breeding ground for terrorists like it was in the 90s. I did not actually believe that we should to this out of any love for the Afghan people or some such silliness. But the past few days has convinced me that we should get out as quickly as possible. We should cut off relations with the inept (and corrupt) Karzai government and withdraw recognition from it. As far as I am concerned, if Karzai is dragged out of his palace and shot in the streets by the Taliban or anyone else, then I would not care in the slightest. As for the Afghan people – if these barbarians actually think that a book is more important than human life, then I say we should… Read more »
Eran Zamir

> We’re going to prosecute our officers and others for burning goddamn Korans???

I get the distinct feeling Obama will not do that, because he is savvy enough to realize that if he did that, he would lose the election.


Trying to nation build was a horrible mistake. GWB knew that while he was running for president, I wish he had remembered it after 9/11


Publish a real name and e-mail address and you can repost your comment. Use of fake identities isn’t allowed.

Micha Elyi

Remember the Coulter Prescription of September 12, 2001? Ann Coulter is such a dear and her advice for dealing with terrorist-harboring Mohammedan countries just gets more and more intelligent with each passing year.

Concerning Those Burned Qu’rans At Bagram Air Base – Glimpse From a Height

[…] Captain’s Journal: […]


From my armchair, we don’t know how to win wars anymore; they have been heavy on welfare delivery (all of my life).

I do wonder why we give prisoners cable TV, internet access, phones… and put up with the trouble that it facilitates. I wonder why we give “enemy combatants” (or whatever the term is) qurans.

There are several, unstated, but extremely important issues underlying the question of involvement in A-stan, all inter-related: 1) due to cultural issues, political correctness etc.., the U.S. has largely lost its will to wage decisive war, the kind that we last waged in WWII (under Democrat presidents no less) which largely explains the power of insurgencies to linger and metastasize and denies us the kind of victory that allowed Germany and Japan to emerge as true, democratic states (and concomitantly denied A-stan that possibility); 2) there is a profound lack of leadership at all levels of the U.S. government– White House, State Dept, Pentagon, CIA– that prevents us from forming a comprehensive, strategic vision for our place in the world which would enable us to readily determine our vital interests and the tools most appropriate to accomplish the overall strategy (in short, we are stumbling around from crisis to crisis, reactionary vs pro-active); 3) this blundering, haphazard approach to foreign policy has severely weakened the American public’s confidence in our ability to shape events in our interest and cultivates this simplistic “screw those foreigners, let’s get the hell out” approach that leaves the U.S. vulnerable by giving us no options… Read more »

CLARIFICATION: my reference to “Indian territory” was vernacular, i.e. “injun country” and in no way was meant to reference the territory of India.

Herschel You have no idea what you’re talking about. The “prisons” at Bagram (technically the DFIP: Detention Facility in Parwan) is not an attempt to “rehabilitate” the detainees, as you say. It’s to gather intel. That is its sole purpose. They’re interogated almost daily. When we determine there’s no more intel to gather, we hand them over to the Afghans and, trust me, none of the detainees want to be handed over to the NSD. It’s not a place that they can recruit further jihadis, as the detainees never interact with one another and in fact don’t know who else is there. There is zero–zilch, nada–personal interaction among the detainees. They found a way to communicate by desecrating the korans, but we put an end to that. Otherwise, as far as they’re concerned they’re the one and only person at the DFIP. You can’t kill them all, Herschel, and the intel we gather from them helps us get the really big fish who do need to be killed. We’ve been pretty good at that so far. YOu can check the IP address I’m writing from to see that I have some credibility here and have personal experience at matters that… Read more »


Wow, guess I touched a nerve. Notice that I did not in fact appeal to authority: My words were “I have personal experience” here. I have in fact stood in the DFIP. Have you? I have in fact interacted with detainees, their ‘gators, the ‘terps, and the intel analysts. Have you?

I said absolutely nothing about night raids or anything else. I said nothing about the ANSF. I mentioned the NDS, a completely different (and quite feared) animal.

You said one thing, I called bullshit. My call is, again, not based on authority (although I have more on this subject than you do) but on ACTUAL, PERSONAL EXPERIENCE! (Sorry for the all-caps shout, but I can’t italicize here.)

As an aside, you need to brush up on your logic, particularly the section on “non sequitur,” which is what your response amounts to.



Appealing to personal experience is not an appeal to authority. It’s, well, an appeal to personal experience. An appeal to authority is “believe me just because of who I am regardless of the evidence.”

Why you’re making a big deal of this is beyond me. You wrote about the “prisons” in Afghanistan based on, I’m guessing, speculation. I responded based on actually having been there and interacted with all concerned. Whom should we trust?

Please don’t distract with side issues such as the values of night raids, etc. That’s not the subject of this discussion and never has been. It’s about the factual errors in your original post, errors I can point out because, unlike you, I’ve actually been there.

I used to enjoy this blog. My active duty time was in the Corps. But you’re pissing up a rope here, and I wonder if I should even bother reading this blog anymore, as I’ve lost any respect for your authority on subjects that you feel free to opine about without bothering to find out if you actually know anything about the subject. If you’re so far off base on this topic, how far off base are you on others?

Time To Go | Daily Pundit

[…] To Go Posted on February 28, 2012 11:30 am by Bill Quick The Captain’s Journal » Concerning Those Burned Qu’rans At Bagram Air Base This entire incident has as its root cause the fact that rather than killing the insurgents on the […]


Buzz is right. I have also been to the detainee facility at Bagram, and its nothing like you talk about. Your reaction is a bit defensive don’t you think?


@ Shawn and Buzz:

Even if we assume for the sake of argument that the detainee facility at Bagram is the model of incarceration for bad guys, does it really matter at this point? Karzai is demanding that it and all other American-run detention facilities be turned over to Afghan control, so it’s going down the proverbial toilet anyway?

The larger point is that many (the majority of?) bad guys captured by the Good Guys and turned over to Afghan authorities are getting released right back into the fight so they get another chance to kill our men in the field. Surely you would agree that this is no way to fight an enemy.


Buzz is right. The NDS would knock the living daylights out of the Bagram prison inmates.

So that is why we “SHOULD” transfer the prison to the ANSF as ISAF is doing. Why are we protecting Taliban from the ANSF?

“The larger point is that many (the majority of?) bad guys captured by the Good Guys and turned over to Afghan authorities are getting released right back into the fight so they get another chance to kill our men in the field. Surely you would agree that this is no way to fight an enemy.”

How popular do you think Karzai’s policy of releasing strategic detainees is among the ANSF? That is why the ANSF often prefer to kill Taliban rather than capture them. Why not let them?


You are currently reading "Concerning Those Burned Qu’rans At Bagram Air Base", entry #8291 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Prisons in Counterinsurgency and was published February 26th, 2012 by Herschel Smith.

If you're interested in what else the The Captain's Journal has to say, you might try thumbing through the archives and visiting the main index, or; perhaps you would like to learn more about TCJ.

26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (677)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (31)
Air Power (9)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (7)
Ammunition (26)
Animals in War (4)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
Antonin Scalia (1)
AR-15s (85)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (49)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (26)
Australian Army (5)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (2)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (53)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (17)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (2)
Blogs (7)
Body Armor (17)
Books (2)
Border War (7)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (27)
British Army (35)
Camping (4)
Canada (2)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (10)
Christmas (8)
CIA (23)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (2)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (215)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (2)
Department of Defense (130)
Department of Homeland Security (16)
Disaster Preparedness (3)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (6)
Donald Trump (1)
Drone Campaign (3)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
El Salvador (1)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (1)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (6)
Featured (177)
Federal Firearms Laws (18)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (585)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (14)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (41)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (7)
Georgia (19)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (471)
Guns (1,082)
Guns In National Parks (3)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (7)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (4)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (11)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (1)
Horses (1)
Humor (13)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (54)
India (10)
Infantry (3)
Information Warfare (2)
Infrastructure (2)
Intelligence (22)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (169)
Iraq (378)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (44)
Islamists (69)
Israel (18)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (2)
Jihadists (80)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (9)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (2)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (3)
Lawfare (6)
Leadership (5)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (2)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (14)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (8)
Logistics (49)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (244)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
Media (31)
Memorial Day (2)
Mexican Cartels (24)
Mexico (30)
Michael Yon (5)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (4)
Military Equipment (24)
Militia (4)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (15)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (16)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (17)
NATO (15)
Navy (21)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (2)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (2)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (53)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (218)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (6)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (33)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Pistol (2)
Pizzagate (21)
Police (241)
Police in COIN (3)
Policy (15)
Politics (316)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (114)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Rifles (1)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (74)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (29)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (173)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (24)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (18)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Supreme Court (2)
Survival (13)
SWAT Raids (53)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (1)
Tactical Gear (1)
Taliban (167)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (16)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (92)
Thanksgiving (6)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (14)
TSA Ineptitude (11)
TTPs (1)
U.S. Border Patrol (5)
U.S. Border Security (14)
U.S. Sovereignty (17)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (3)
Uncategorized (42)
Universal Background Check (3)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (2)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (212)
War & Warfare (40)
War Movies (3)
War Reporting (18)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (6)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (57)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (18)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2017 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.