NBC News and news services
updated 2/19/2010 3:54:10 PM ET 2010-02-19T20:54:10

The Army has been investigating five Muslim soldiers over allegations of food poisoning at its largest training base, but has found "no credible evidence" to indicate any of them posed a threat, Army officials told NBC News on Friday.

Army spokeswoman Julia Simpkins said no soldiers were ever in danger at Fort Jackson, outside Columbia. Simpkins said the investigation continues.

Army officials told NBC News that the investigation began last December after one or more of the soldiers had "threatened to spit" into the food of other soldiers. The officials said it wasn't clear that this was a "serious threat," but an investigation by the Army's Criminal Investigative Division was launched nevertheless.

So far, they said, there was no evidence to indicate any of the five attempted to poison other soldiers' food.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.

One Army official said "there may have been some bantering back and forth between these five Muslim soldiers and others that either was misinterpreted or got out of hand."

The five soldiers are part of the 09 LIMA program, which puts native-speaking military interpreters and translators into combat units in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The positions are considered so critical the Army has offered $29,000 in re-enlistment bonuses to keep soldiers in the service.

Fort Jackson puts more than 50,000 men and women through entry-level and advanced training courses every year. Its food service spans an array of some 13 dining halls and about 40,000 hot meals are served on the base daily.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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