Allegations have been circling today that Abdullah Kurdi, the father of drowned Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi who was photographed face down on a Turkish beach, was a human smuggler and the captain of the boat that capsized. The deadly incident claimed 12 lives including Kurdi’s family – his wife and two young sons.
According to The Wall Street Journal, new allegations from an Iraqi family who lost two children in the capsizing allege that Kurdi was the operator of a 4.5-metre long rubber boat.
The father and mother of 11-year-old Zainab Haidi and 10-year-old Haidar Haidi, whose bodies have been returned to Baghdad, claim Kurdi pleaded them to not inform Turkish police that he was in charge of the boat.
Another family member also told Australia’s Ten News that Kurdi and another smuggler was paid US$10,000 (CAD$13,260) for the voyage. When the small boat hit a large wave, it capsized.
But in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Kurdi has denied the Iraqi family’s allegations, stating that the Turkish smuggler who had captained the boat jumped into the water and abandoned the passengers just after the engine stalled. Kurdi returned home several days ago to bury his family in their hometown, where they had been fleeing from.
Since last week, his family has been a symbol of the desperation and dangers that millions of Syrian and Iraqi refugees are facing in their home countries with the ongoing civil wars.
Canada was put in the spotlight given that there was a Vancouver connection to the tragedy, and just yesterday Kurdi publicly blamed Canada for the death of his family.