South Carolina

Siddiqui family: USMC investigation leaves ‘unanswered’ questions

A flag-draped coffin holds the body of former Marine recruit Raheel Siddiqui at his funeral on March 25, 2016, in Detroit. Siddiqui, a Taylor, Mich., native, died March 18 during recruit training on Parris Island. His death is being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
A flag-draped coffin holds the body of former Marine recruit Raheel Siddiqui at his funeral on March 25, 2016, in Detroit. Siddiqui, a Taylor, Mich., native, died March 18 during recruit training on Parris Island. His death is being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Submitted

The family of former Parris Island recruit Raheel Siddiqui says the Marine Corps’ investigation has not answered all the questions surrounding their son’s death.

A statement released late Thursday night by the Shiraz Law Firm — the agency currently representing the family — said attorney Shiraz Khan and the Siddiquis are “currently reviewing the findings and will determine their next course of action.”

“At this time we acknowledge the efforts of the United States Marine Corps,” the statement said. “However, there are too many questions that remain unanswered. We will work with NCIS as they move forward with their investigation.”

While the Marine Corps’ investigation into recruit Siddiqui’s death — which the Corps ruled a suicide — has been conducted, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation is still open.

“All we can say at this point is that the investigation is ongoing,” NCIS spokesperson Ed Buice said in an email to the Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette on Thursday afternoon.

Siddiqui died on March 18. The Taylor, Mich., native fell nearly 40 feet at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

The Marine Corps announced Thursday the initial findings of three command investigations linked to his death.

The first investigation began in 2015 and involved multiples drill instructors accused of misconduct — including “racially motivated hazing,” a Marine Corps official speaking on background said Thursday. That investigation was linked to Siddiqui’s death because one of the drill instructors under scrutiny was improperly assigned to Siddiqui’s training battalion.

A second investigation — called a “red dot” — was opened by the Corps at the behest of the White House after the White House received a letter alleging recruit abuse, the Corps official said. That investigation was linked to Siddiqui’s death because the alleged abuse occurred under the same leadership and within the same battalion to which Siddiqui belonged.

The investigation of Siddiqui’s death brought other concerns to light, the official said. Specifically, it found allegations of drill instructors under the influence of alcohol while on duty; a “lack of clarity” in the process and procedures for reporting recruit abuse; and inconsistencies in how a recruit’s suicidal ideations were addressed.

“Currently, 20 Recruit Training Regiment personnel have been identified for possible military justice or administrative action,” according to a statement from Marine Corps Headquarters released Thursday afternoon.

The Siddiquis were previously represented by attorney Nabih Ayad. The newspapers were notified by the Shiraz Law Firm in late July that the family had retained Khan to represent them. Khan confirmed this on a mid-August phone call.

This story will be updated.

Wade Livingston: 843-706-8153, @WadeGLivingston

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