An American soldier has been discplined and ordered to leave Iraq after it was discovered while on the shooting range he made a target out of a copy of the Koran and proceeded to blast it to pieces. This act of desecration could have become a time bomb that might have shaken Iraq, but quick action on the part of US military officials apparently has headed off further anger on the part of Muslims. Saeed al-Zubaie, head of an American allied Sunni tribal council, said the book had been used as target practice. He said it was peppered with 14 bullet holes and offensive language had been scrawled inside. Zubaie told teh press, “I was feeling bitterness, but as long as they apologized we are OK with them. Our anger has cooled.” The Sunni tribal units came close to quitting over protest against the shooting.
General Jeffrey Hammond, the commander of US forces near Baghdad, and other military officers, rushed to the scene of the shooting and immediately apologized to Arab leaders. Hammond told the crowd: “I am a man of honor, I am a man of character. You have my word this will never happen again.” The tribal leaders were presented a new copy of the Koran.