Marine recruit Raheel Siddiqui died in 2016 after falling 40 feet from a barracks stairwell at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina.
A military investigation into the death of the 20-year-old from Taylor, Michigan, determined that Siddiqui died after throwing himself from the platform, an incident that reportedly unfolded in the immediate aftermath of an abusive altercation with Marine drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix, who was convicted in 2017 of abusing recruits and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
On the day of his death, Siddiqui reportedly approached Felix about going to medical due to a sore throat. When the recruit asked without first offering the appropriate greeting of the day, the drill instructor reportedly became irate, forcing Siddiqui to run sprints across the squad bay until he lost consciousness. The investigation determined that Siddiqui was then slapped by Felix, who argued that he was trying to revive him. Once he gathered himself Siddiqui ran from the drill instructor before leaping to his death.
During Felix’s trial, one testimony alleged that the former drill instructor intentionally singled out Muslim recruits, forcing one to simulate beheading another recruit while yelling “Allahu akbar” and allegedly forcing two Muslim recruits to climb inside an industrial dryer.
That incident and subsequent investigation, specifically one version published in 2017 by Janet Reitman in the New York Times Magazine, will now form the basis of an upcoming TV series on a culture of hazing and deep-rooted Islamophobia in Marine Corps basic training, Deadline first announced.
“We feel privileged to have the opportunity to tell this story,” David Glasser, CEO of 101 Studios, told Deadline.
“Raheel’s death was tragic and his family’s loss is immeasurable, but his death has revealed he is not the only victim. We intend to further explore the brutal hazing and torture that has riddled Parris Island for decades and tell the stories of the other victims who have silently suffered.”
Additional details on the series were not yet made available.
Siddiqui’s family, meanwhile, maintains that the Marine recruit did not die by suicide, alleging that the Marine Corps investigation that labeled his death a suicide only served to cast doubt on the incident, making it more difficult for the family to seek justice through the court system.
One year ago Siddiqui’s parents requested that the Supreme Court overturn a lower court’s dismissal of their $100 million wrongful death lawsuit, one originally filed in 2017 that claimed their son had to “endure torture, maltreatment and abuse,” at least in part because he was Muslim.
The petition claims that Siddiqui’s recruiter failed to inform him of the particularly harsh treatment he would receive at boot camp for being Muslim and that the Marine Corps failed to protect him from drill instructors who have a history of singling out Muslim recruits.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.