David Chater, a reporter for Al Jazeera in Kabul, has discovered that the U.S. military supplied guns to Afghan soldiers that carried on its sights engraved code numbers that stood for passages from the New Testament. The report was carried on Al Jazeera’s website on Friday, January 21.
“It is a rallying cry for the Taliban,” Chater observed. “It gives them a propaganda tool. They’ve always tried to paint the U.S. effort as a Christian campaign.”
Interviewed by Al Jazzera, Colonel Gregory Breazile, of the NATO Training command in Afghanistan, said, “We were told about this last night and when we looked into it we found that it was true. We started to take action and notified both the ministry of defence and our chain of command and they have all taken action so that we don’t purchase any more of these sights. We gave the Afghan military these weapons. We are very disappointed but it is a tiny inscription and very hard to notice.”
Another NATO spokesman has acknowledged that the practice is inappropriate but said that the guns will remain in use for now.
US military forces have repeatedly stated that their mission in Afghanistan was secular and that they have a ban on proselytizing.
Al Jazeera said ABC News had broken the story. It stated the Marine Corps was said to have a $660 million contract over multiple years with the manufacturer Trijican to make 800,000 units of the product.
Trijicon says that it has manufactured weapons sights with biblical inscriptions for three decades and never before received a complaint.
The U.S.-based Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) has called on Robert Gates, the U.S. defence secretary, asking him to withdraw the equipment from combat immediately.