Al Jazeera Strikes Back at Pentagon, Releases Unedited Footage of U.S. Soldiers' 'Bible Study' in Afghanistan
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Hours after Al Jazeera first broadcast a video showing U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan being instructed by the military’s top chaplain in the country to “hunt people for Jesus” as they spread Christianity to the overwhelmingly Muslim population, the Pentagon shot back. It charged that Al Jazeera had “grossly misrepresent[ed] the truth.” Col. Greg Julian, told Al Jazeera: “Most of this is taken out of context … this is irresponsible and inappropriate journalism.”
Now, Al Jazeera and the man who filmed the controversial material are striking back. The network has just released unedited and unaltered footage of U.S. soldiers in ‘bible study’ in Afghanistan. Jazeera describes it as “Extended footage shot by Brian Hughes, a U.S. documentary maker and former member of the U.S. military who spent several days in Bagram near Kabul.”
In Al Jazeera’s original report, Hughes addressed the fact that soldiers had imported bibles translated into Pashto and Dari. “[U.S. soldiers] weren’t talking about learning how to speak Dari or Pashto, by reading the Bible and using that as the tool for language lessons,” Hughes told Al Jazeera. “The only reason they would have these documents there was to distribute them to the Afghan people. And I knew it was wrong, and I knew that filming it … documenting it would be important.”
Regarding allegations that the sermon of the military’s top chaplain in Afghanistan, Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Hensley, where he instructs soldiers to “hunt people for Jesus” was taken out of context, Hughes said in a statment, “Any contention by the military that his words are purposefully taken out of context to alter the tone or meaning of his sermon is absolutely false.”
Jeremy Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army .