U.S. admits abuses to Qur'an in Guantanamo

The U.S. Pentagon confirmed Friday a list of abuses involving the Qur'an by American personnel at Guantanamo Bay.

The U.S. Pentagon confirmed Friday a list of abuses involving the Qur'an, Islam's holy book, by American personnel at Guantanamo Bay, but said the incidents were relatively minor.

A story published in Newsweek last month accused an American serviceman of flushing a copy of the Qur'an down a toilet.

That story was later retracted, but it touched off demonstrations around the world, including deadly protests in Afghanistan in which 17 died.

The latest confirmed abuses are contained in a report put together by Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, the commander of the detention center in Cuba.

They include: splashing urine on a prisoner and his Qur'an, stepping on and kicking the Qur'an, throwing water on it, and scratching an obscenity on the inside cover.

Although none of the abuses can be said to be as severe as the unfounded allegation, they still represent a list of incidents that will shock and horrify Muslims around the world.

Adherents of Islam consider the Qur'an to be the word of God as delivered directly to the prophet Muhammad.

In a statement Hood said his investigation "revealed a consistent, documented policy of respectful handling of the Qur'an dating back almost two and a half years."

He said only five incidents could be confirmed during that time of American personnel mishandling the Qur'an. He said he found 15 cases of detainees mishandling their own Qur'ans, including "attempting to flush a Qur'an down the toilet and urinating on the Qur'an."

The statement did not provide any explanation about why the detainees might have abused their own holy books.

There are believed to be more than 500 detainees at the prison in Guantanamo Bay. Most of them were captured in Afghanistan and are thought to have information about Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Some have been held for more than three years without being charged.