The drill instructor who allegedly hazed recruit Raheel Siddiqui moments before his death was the same instructor who had previously ordered a Muslim recruit into a commercial clothes dryer and interrogated him about his religion and loyalties.
That drill instructor had also called Siddiqui — a 20-year-old Muslim, Pakistani-American from Taylor, Mich. — a “terrorist” at some point during the recruit’s brief time at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, according to a Corps official speaking on background Monday morning.
And recently released information from the Corps — stemming from three command investigations linked to Siddiqui’s death —further confirms the recruit was trying to request medical treatment the morning when he was hazed and struck in the face.
According to Corps officials, Siddiqui provided a written note to his drill instructors on March 18 that requested he be allowed to go to sickbay because he had a sore throat.
After breakfast, a drill instructor called him to the front of the squad bay to acquire a pass so he could go to sickbay. But Siddiqui was deemed to have not reported properly, according to officials.
A drill instructor made him run “get-backs” — running to the end of the squad bay and back to repeat the reporting process. After several get-backs, Siddiqui fell to the floor crying and clutching his throat. He appeared unresponsive.
The drill instructor ordered him to his feet, then “forcefully” slapped him in the face between one and three times, according to officials.
At that point, Siddiqui jumped to his feet, ran the length of the squad bay, opened and ran through a door, and vaulted over the third-floor stairwell railing.
The Corps’ information complements the story shared with — and first reported by — the Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette by then-Siddiqui family attorney Nabih Ayad in April.
After the fall
Immediately after the fall, at least two Marines called 911 while two others ran downstairs to render aid. The Marines tried to immobilize Siddiqui’s head and neck, officials said.
At 5:36 a.m., the depot’s “Station 1” received the 911 call and arrived four minutes later. Paramedics determined they needed an air ambulance to Savannah, but weather conditions made the flight unavailable. A second air ambulance call was made to Charleston — that flight was scheduled to arrive in a half hour.
Siddiqui was taken to the depot’s parade deck to await the helicopter.
However, the helicopter’s response time was deemed too lengthy and a decision was made to transport him by ground to Beaufort Memorial Hospital.
At 6:53 a.m., Siddiqui arrived at the hospital, where he was treated. But staffers there said he needed higher level care, and arranged to have him transported by air to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
Siddiqui was transported at 8:03 a.m. and admitted there at 8:42 a.m. He received “emergency surgery” and blood transfusions, but his condition worsened.
At 10:06 a.m., he was pronounced dead.
An autopsy performed at the hospital the next day concluded Siddiqui died “as a result of blunt force trauma to (the) head, neck and torso,” officials said.
“Furthermore, the manner of death is best deemed suicide,” officials said.
The drill instructor
On Nov. 5, 2015, the Corps began investigating the drill instructor for allegedly stuffing another Muslim recruit in a dryer. This same drill instructor slapped Siddiqui moments before he jumped.
The dryer incident took place in summer 2015, according to officials. Three former members of Platoon 3054, Company L, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion reported the incident on Nov. 3, 2015, 103 days after their class had graduated. The Corps began investigating the matter three days later.
One night, the drill instructor (accompanied by a colleague) allegedly made a recruit march to the shower and do pushups, crunches and high-knees exercises. The recruit was made to “get on his face” in the shower because he wasn’t yet wet enough, officials said.
The recruit was then taken to the laundry room and ordered to get in the dryer. The recruit was 6-feet-tall and weighed 152 pounds.
The drill instructor told the recruit it was his job to “weed out spies” and asked him if he was part of the 9/11 attacks.
The dryer door was closed and the machine turned on for 30 seconds or so.
Then, the drill instructor asked the recruit who he was working for. The recruit replied “nobody.” The dryer was turned back on for roughly 30 more seconds.
Then, the recruit was asked what his religion was.
He replied “Islam.”
The dryer was turned back on, this time for a longer time.
Then, the recruit was asked if he was still a Muslim.
He replied “yes.”
The dryer was turned on one last time.
The recruit alleged to have suffered burns on his neck and shoulders, officials said.
On Monday, the Corps confirmed the drill instructor was the same instructor who hazed and hit Siddiqui on March 18. A Corps official speaking on background also said that instructor had called Siddiqui a “terrorist,” but it was unclear or unknown if he used the slur on March 18.
A command investigation determined that instructor was improperly assigned to Siddiqui’s platoon in Company K, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion.
He should not have been supervising recruits, Corps have officials have said, because he was being investigated for recruit abuse and mistreatment.
“We believe the facts surrounding Raheel’s death speak directly to this issue,” the Shiraz Law Firm — the Siddiqui family’s current legal representative — said last week in an email to the newspapers when asked if the family and their attorney believed the recruit was subjected to racially-, ethnically- or religiously-motivated hazing.
“However, we must understand this is not a Muslim issue; it’s an American issue. To those that say otherwise, I ask you, what if this patriotic young man was your son or your brother?”
“We are still waiting on the enclosures to the results of this command investigation to decide how we plan to proceed,” the firm said in the email.
“However, we believe that there is a lack of material evidence needed to support ‘suicide’ as the most probable cause of death in this case.”