In what appears to be the first major magazine treatment of the death of Raheel Siddiqui — and the hazing and abuse scandal — at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Esquire magazine raised doubts that the young Muslim recruit’s death was a suicide.
The article, “The Mysterious Death of a Muslim Marine Recruit,” which the magazine unveiled Wednesday, is a narrative treatment of Siddiqui’s time on the island and a profile of the recruit’s family and life in Taylor, Mich., his hometown.
Reporter Alex French also explored the stressful drill instructor role, the command climate and culture of 3rd Recruit Training Battalion — Siddiqui’s former unit — and instances of other recruit abuse and hazing at the depot.
Most notably, however, French examined the doubts that Siddiqui’s family, their attorney and a former Parris Island battalion commander have about the Marine Corps’ assertion that the young man’s death was a suicide.
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According to family attorney Shiraz Khan, the “condition of Siddiqui’s body told a far more insidious story than the one presented in the Marine Corps’ report,” French wrote.
“An autopsy found that Siddiqui died of blunt-force trauma sustained during his fall,” French wrote. “But it found other injuries as well.
“There were ligature marks around Siddiqui’s neck that looked like a pattern of rope ridges. He had bondage marks on his wrists and ankles. His toes were crushed. And there was evidence of petechial hemorrhaging and bronchial mucosa—common signs of an airway obstructed by manual strangulation, smothering, or hanging.”
And French wrote Kate Germano, former commander of the depot’s 4th Recruit Training Battalion, “doesn’t buy the official account of Siddiqui’s death, either.”
“‘There was physical proof that recruits were being discharged and broken because of the training mechanism in the Third Battalion,’” French wrote, quoting Germano.
“She scoffs at the idea that Siddiqui became suicidal just eleven days after arriving at Parris Island,” he wrote.
“‘How does this kid go from graduating at the top of his class, being beloved by his friends and the people he worked with at Home Depot, and being thrilled about becoming a Marine, to being a suicidal jumper with no other inside or outside factors?’” he wrote, again quoting Germano.
“‘How is that possible? They don’t break like that. They just don’t.’”
Last week, the Marine Corps arraigned three former drill instructors and held an Article 32 hearing for another — these are the first four Marines to be charged with hazing or abusing recruits. In all, up to 20 drill instructors and leadership personnel could face charges.
The Corps says their charges, which include cruelty and maltreatment, are not related to Siddiqui’s death.