TSR: "This is an enormous affront to all Muslims."

Length: 3:24

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Michael recaps and expands upon the desecration incident that happened last week.

(This feels to me like something that is much worse than the Danish cartoon controversy. Even if it is resolved in Iraq -- and we have yet to be sure that it is -- it may yet burn in other Muslim communities throughout the world.)

WOLF BLITZER: There's outrage in Iraq right now over the desecration of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, by a U.S. soldier who used it for target practice. The U.S. military trying desperately right now to head off some major, major trouble.

And joining us now in Baghdad, our correspondent Michael Ware -- Michael, this story has really sparked a lot of nerves out there.

Tell us what happened.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what this is, is a potentially incendiary issue, which could have fractured America's alliance with the Sunni insurgents.

But the Americans reacted quickly and in a very forthright manner and perhaps have nipped it in the bud. But it's still bubbling today.

Let's go back and look at how it all started. Sometime around the 11th of May, at a shooting range just near an Iraqi police station, a group of American soldiers went in for target practice. When they stopped shooting, an Iraqi police officer or militia member went in there and saw what they'd been shooting at. And, indeed, it was a copy of the Holy Quran, riddled with bullets, torn apart.

This is an enormous affront to all Muslims. And inside was scrawled some graffiti in English -- an expletive and a reference to the film "Team America".

Now, what happened is that Iraqi complained to his superiors. It enraged the local tribes working with the Americans -- enraged this district just outside of Baghdad. And, thankfully, the tribal elders went to the Americans. The American commander immediately launched an investigation. And that very rapidly identified the group of soldiers. And from that, they identified a staff sergeant, a sniper section leader, who at first denied involvement, but then later confessed.

Now what happened is the Americans, on Saturday, went -- the commanding general of all forces in Baghdad, Wolf, confronted this chanting mob and before them all, he made this very heartfelt apology.


MAJ. GEN. JEFFREY HAMMOND, U.S. ARMY: The actions of one soldier was nothing more than criminal behavior. And I've come to this land to protect you, to support you, not to harm you. And the behavior of this soldier was nothing short of wrong and unacceptable.


WARE: Indeed, Wolf, General Hammond said that that soldier had lost the honor to serve the U.S. Army and the people of Iraq here in Baghdad and had been sent to the United States. A number of disciplinary proceedings have been taken against that soldier.

And we saw today, the number two most senior commander in all of Iraq -- General Petraeus' number two man, Lieutenant General Austin -- went to the vice president of Iraq, Tariq al-Hashemi, further apologized. And the vice president of Iraq has demanded even more action against that U.S. soldier and even more commitment from the Americans that this shall never happen again.

But by and large, the U.S. forces reacted quickly, promptly. And, hopefully, they've salvaged the very alliance that has helped them put al Qaeda on the run -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Michael, you'll stay on top of this. I suspect the ramifications haven't yet been complete.

Michael Ware is our correspondent in Baghdad. Michael, thanks.

WARE: Thank you, Wolf.