At Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, a military jury has convicted Sgt. Joseph Felix of not only abusing young recruits while hazing them but targeting Muslims (who he referred to as “terrorist” and “ISIS”) in particular. He now faces an undetermined prison sentence after charges were brought when one of his targets, a 20-year-old Muslim man named Raheel Siddiqui, apparently killed himself after being physically and mentally abused by Felix, whose actions were proven to include choking, kicking, and punching recruits.
In addition to the trial of Felix, the Siddiqui’s family has filed a wrongful death action against both the U.S. government and the Marine Corps, which ruled that the Muslim-American recruit had committed suicide (while the family argues that Felix metaphorically pushed Siddiqui to his death). Another recruit testified that Felix repeatedly referred to Siddiqui as a “terrorist” and slapped him repeatedly. The Washington Post has more details about the actions of the often-drunk Felix as revealed in the courtroom:
Felix was “drunk on power, and sometimes Fireball whiskey,” Lt. Col. John Norman, a prosecutor, told the jury Wednesday. “He wasn’t making Marines — he was breaking Marines.”
The first two Muslim recruits allegedly victimized by Felix were Ameer Bourmeche and Rekan Hawez, prosecutors said. Both testified during his court-martial that Felix and Eldridge put them into an industrial clothes dryer. A third Muslim recruit who prosecutors say faced abuse by Felix was Siddiqui, who prosecutors say was slapped repeatedly by Felix before he jumped 40 feet to his death in March 2016.
The scenarios involving the clothes dryer were especially harrowing, for Felix was accused of turning on the appliance after ordering the Muslim recruits inside and ordering them to renounce their faith. Lance Cpl. Ameer Bourmeche told the court that he refused to do so on two occasions and was then subjected to “bruising, scorching tumble[s].” Bourmeche said that when he was ordered inside a third time, he did obey orders and renounce his faith in order to be freed from what he felt was a potentially fatal round of abuse.
According to CBS News, several other officers in the Marine Corps, including the training batallion’s commanding officer and five more drill instructors, are accused of associated abuse and awaiting trial within this investigation.