A Parris Island lieutenant colonel who commanded the training battalion in which Marine recruit Raheel Siddiqui died has been relieved of command.
Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon, commanding officer of the Third Recruit Training Battalion, was relieved by Col. Paul D. Cucinotta on Thursday following an investigation by the inspector general of the Marine Corps.
The Marine Corps said the decision to relieve Kissoon was not related to Siddiqui’s death but did say the recruit’s demise was a factor that delayed Kissoon leaving the position.
“The decision to remove Lt. Col. Kissoon was made March 17, prior to the death of recruit Siddiqui,” Marine spokesman Capt. Greg Carroll said Thursday.
Cucinotta cited a loss of trust and confidence in Kissoon’s abilities to serve in command after reviewing the results of the investigation, according to a news release received Thursday morning.
Carroll declined to comment on what specifically “a loss of trust and confidence” means and what prompted the investigation of Kissoon. He also declined to say when the investigation began.
A staff member with the Inspector General of the Marine Corps unit said she could not comment on this or any other investigation. Messages left with Marine Corps headquarters were not returned.
The command inspector general of Parris Island received official notification of the Kissoon investigation’s results on Feb. 23, Carroll said.
On Feb. 29, Cucinotta was provided with the results of the investigation.
Cucinotta made the decision to relieve Kissoon on March 17, Carroll said, and Kissoon was notified of the relief Thursday.
When asked why it took two additional weeks to relieve Kissoon, Carroll said it was a “commander’s discretion as to when relief occurs.”
“In determining the date of relief, several factors were taken into account,” Carroll said.
“Thought was given to the well-being of our personnel, operational requirements and the need to inform the chain of command,” Carroll wrote in an email to The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette on Thursday afternoon.
“In this case, the unfortunate death of recruit Siddiqui was also a serious consideration,” Carroll wrote. “It was important that our focus remained on the people affected by the tragedy, which included family members, and the NCIS investigation.
“The delay was deliberate and, given the situation, the right thing to do.”
Kissoon had assumed command of the battalion on June 25, 2014.
Siddiqui, who died March 18 on Parris Island, belonged to the Third Recruit Training Battalion, according to Carroll.
Siddiqui, 20, of Taylor, Mich., arrived at Parris Island on March 7.
His family told Detroit’s WDIV-Channel 4 on March 21 that a casualty report they’d received from the Marine Corps stated Siddiqui passed out during a drill and, when awakened by a drill instructor, got up and “ran out the back hatch of the squad bay and jumped over the ladderwell wall ... falling three stories before landing on the ground.”
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service says there are “no apparent signs of foul play” in Siddiqui’s death.
“NCIS does not discuss the details of ongoing investigations, but I can confirm that (Siddiqui’s) death is due to injuries sustained in a nearly 40-foot fall in a barracks stairwell,” NCIS spokesman Ed Buice wrote in an email sent Monday to the newspapers.
The ongoing NCIS investigation can take several months, Buice said.
Siddiqui’s body arrived in Detroit on March 24, and his funeral was the following day.