You'll Never See This On CNN - #745
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Here's something that'll never make the headlines - 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One) Soldiers escorting the head religious figure in Samarra, Iraq, on an (inspection) TOUR through the local detention facilities...
Imam Visits the 2nd Brigad Combat Team Detention FacilityWhere's Dan Rather on this one?
In an effort to develop a positive relationship with Imams, who are religious leaders, and to curtail rumors of detainee abuse, Dr. Hatem Ahmad Abass, the head Imam in Samarra, was invited to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team Detention facility at Forward Operating Base Brassfield-Mora to give a sermon to the detainees.
Abass is the Imam at the Al Hadi Mosque, also known as the Golden Mosque. Two associates from the Samarra Working Group, Sheik Jasim Dauod, Imam for the Noor Al-Yaqeen Mosque, and Ghazi Abdul-Kareem Abdullah, a court magistrate in Samarra visited the facility with Abass.
Lt. Col. Kirk T. Allen, Task Force commander of the FOB, greeted Abass when he arrived at the detention facility. After introductions, Abass was set up with a speaker system so he could give his sermon. His message focused on patience and hope, and he told the detainees that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
After the sermon, Abass and his associates talked with several detainees and were given a tour of the facility by the task force’s military police platoon, Chaplain and S-5.
2nd Lt. Warren, the MP platoon leader, showed Abass the facility’s aid station, latrines, showers and even the contents of one of the Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) that the detainees are given three times a day.
The Imam said he was pleased to see that the detainees had access to copies of the Quran and were allowed their religious freedom.
Following their visit, Abass and his associates admitted that they had been pleasantly surprised at how well the detainees were treated. They said the detainees told them that they were well fed, cared for and treated with respect by everyone at the detention facility.
Abass mentioned that he had expected far worse conditions at the detention facility given the prison abuse scandal in Abu Ghrid Prison. But was pleased with what he saw at the 2nd BCT detention facility.
As the members of the Samarra Working Group left, they thanked Allen for allowing them to give a sermon. The Imam’s visit boosted the detainees’ morale, raised their spirits and gave them hope, the detainees said.