Syrian toddler Aylan's father drove capsized boat, other passengers say

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Drowned Syrian Toddlers and Their Mother Buried in Kobani

The father of drowned Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi was working with smugglers and driving the flimsy boat that capsized trying to reach Greece, other passengers on board said, in an account that disputes the version he gave last week.

Ahmed Hadi Jawwad and his wife, Iraqis who lost their 11-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son in the crossing, told Reuters that Abdullah Kurdi panicked and accelerated when a wave hit the boat, raising questions about his claim that somebody else was driving the boat.

A third passenger confirmed their version of events, which Reuters could not independently verify.

See photos from the scene:

19 PHOTOS
Aylan Kurdi, Syrian migrant boy who drowned
See Gallery
Syrian toddler Aylan's father drove capsized boat, other passengers say
This handout photo courtesy of Tima Kurdi shows a photo of Aylan Kurdi, left, and his brother Galib Kurdi. The body of 3-year-old Syrian Alan Kurdi was found on a Turkish beach after the small rubber boat he, his 5-year old brother Galib and their mother, Rehan, were in capsized during a desperate voyage from Turkey to Greece. The family stated that the spelling of the boys’ names had been changed by Turkish authorities to Aylan and Galip, but were in fact spelled as Alan and Galib. (Photo courtesy of Tima Kurdi /The Canadian Press via AP) 
This handout photo courtesy of Tima Kurdi shows a photo of Alan Kurdi. The body of 3-year-old Syrian Alan Kurdi was found on a Turkish beach after the small rubber boat he, his 5-year old brother Galib and their mother, Rehan, were in capsized during a desperate voyage from Turkey to Greece. The family stated that the spelling of the boys’ names had been changed by Turkish authorities to Aylan and Galip, but were in fact spelled as Alan and Galib. (Photo courtesy of Tima Kurdi /The Canadian Press via AP) 
Abdullah Kurdi, 40, right, father of Syrian boys Aylan, 3, and Galip, 5, who were washed up drowned on a beach near Turkish resort of Bodrum on Wednesday, speaks to the media as he waits for the delivery of their bodies outside a morgue in Mugla, Turkey, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015.(AP Photo/Mehmet Can Meral)
Abdullah Kurdi, 40, father of Syrian boys Aylan, 3, and Galip, 5, who were washed up drowned on a beach near Turkish resort of Bodrum on Wednesday, waits for the delivery of their bodies outside a morgue in Mugla, Turkey, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Images of Aylan’s body on the beach, have heightened global attention to a wave of migration, driven by war and deprivation, that is unparalleled since World War II. (Tolga Adanali/Depo Photos via AP)
WARNING: This gallery contains graphic content. Viewer discretion is advised. 
A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of a migrant child after a number of migrants died and a smaller number were reported missing after boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized, near the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/DHA) TURKEY OUT
A migrant child's dead body lies on the shores in Bodrum, southern Turkey, on September 2, 2015 after a boat carrying refugees sank while reaching the Greek island of Kos. Thousands of refugees and migrants arrived in Athens on September 2, as Greek ministers held talks on the crisis, with Europe struggling to cope with the huge influx fleeing war and repression in the Middle East and Africa. AFP PHOTO / Nilufer Demir / DOGAN NEWS AGENCY (Photo credit should read Nilufer Demir/AFP/Getty Images)
Tima Kurdi, touches a photo of her nephews Alan and Galib Kurdi while speaking to the media outside her home in Coquitlam, B.C., Canada, on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The body of 3-year-old Syrian Alan Kurdi was found on a Turkish beach after the small rubber boat he, his 5-year old brother Galib and their mother, Rehan, were in capsized during a desperate voyage from Turkey to Greece. The family stated that the spelling of the boys’ names had been changed by Turkish authorities to Aylan and Galip, but were in fact spelled as Alan and Galib. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP) 
This handout photo courtesy of Tima Kurdi shows a photo of her three-year-old nephew Alan Kurdi on her phone during an interview at her home in Coquitlam, B.C., Canada, on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The body of 3-year-old Syrian Alan Kurdi was found on a Turkish beach after the small rubber boat he, his 5-year old brother Galib and their mother, Rehan, were in capsized during a desperate voyage from Turkey to Greece. The family stated that the spelling of the boys’ names had been changed by Turkish authorities to Aylan and Galip, but were in fact spelled as Alan and Galib. (Photo courtesy of Tima Kurdi /The Canadian Press via AP)
This handout photo courtesy of Tima Kurdi shows Alan Kurdi, left, and his brother Galib Kurdi. The body of 3-year-old Syrian Alan Kurdi was found on a Turkish beach after the small rubber boat he, his 5-year old brother Galib and their mother, Rehan, were in capsized during a desperate voyage from Turkey to Greece. The family stated that the spelling of the boys’ names had been changed by Turkish authorities to Aylan and Galip, but were in fact spelled as Alan and Galib. (Photo courtesy of Tima Kurdi /The Canadian Press via AP) 
Abdullah Kurdi, 40, father of Syrian boys Aylan, 3, and Galip, 5, who were washed up drowned on a beach near Turkish resort of Bodrum on Wednesday, waits for the delivery of their bodies outside a morgue in Mugla, Turkey, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Images of Aylan’s body on the beach, have heightened global attention to a wave of migration, driven by war and deprivation, that is unparalleled since World War II. (Tolga Adanali/Depo Photos via AP)
Tima Kurdi is overcome with emotion as she looks at photos of her late nephews Alan and Galib Kurdi, at her home in Coquitlam, B.C., Canada, on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The body of 3-year-old Syrian Alan Kurdi was found on a Turkish beach after the small rubber boat he, his 5-year old brother Galib and their mother, Rehan, were in capsized during a desperate voyage from Turkey to Greece. The family stated that the spelling of the boys’ names had been changed by Turkish authorities to Aylan and Galip, but were in fact spelled as Alan and Galib. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Tima Kurdi shows a photo of her three-year-old nephew Alan Kurdi on her phone during an interview at her home in Coquitlam, B.C., Canada, on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The body of 3-year-old Syrian Alan Kurdi was found on a Turkish beach after the small rubber boat he, his 5-year old brother Galib and their mother, Rehan, were in capsized during a desperate voyage from Turkey to Greece. The family stated that the spelling of the boys’ names had been changed by Turkish authorities to Aylan and Galip, but were in fact spelled as Alan and Galib. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP) 
Abdullah Kurdi, 40, father of Syrian boys Aylan, 3, and Galip, 5, who were washed up drowned on a beach near Turkish resort of Bodrum on Wednesday, cries as he waits for the delivery of their bodies outside a morgue in Mugla, Turkey, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015.(AP Photo/Mehmet Can Meral)
Tima Kurdi is comforted by friend Hoba Said as she is overcome with emotion as she looks at photos of her late nephews Alan and Galib Kurdi, at her home in Coquitlam, B.C., Canada, on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The body of 3-year-old Syrian Alan Kurdi was found on a Turkish beach after the small rubber boat he, his 5-year old brother Galib and their mother, Rehan, were in capsized during a desperate voyage from Turkey to Greece. The family stated that the spelling of the boys’ names had been changed by Turkish authorities to Aylan and Galip, but were in fact spelled as Alan and Galib. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Officials carry the coffin of Rehan Kurdi, the mother of Syrian boys Aylan, 3, and Galip, 5, who were washed up drowned on a beach near Turkish resort of Bodrum on Wednesday, from a morgue to a funeral car in Mugla, Turkey, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Images of Aylan’s body on the beach, have heightened global attention to a wave of migration, driven by war and deprivation, that is unparalleled since World War II. (AP Photos/Emrah Gurel)
Men load onto a funeral vehicle the coffins of migrants and three-year old Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian boy whose body was washed up on a Turkish beach after a boat carrying refugees sank as it crossed to the Greek island of Kos, at the morgue in Mugla, southern Turkey, on September 3, 2015. The father of a three-year-old Syrian boy whose body was washed up on a Turkish beach, an image that shocked the world, said on September 3 his children 'slipped through my hands' as their boat was taking in water en route to Greece. Abdullah, whose surname is given by Turkish media as Kurdi but sources in Syria say is actually called Shenu, lost his three-year-old son Aylan, four-year-old son Ghaleb and wife Rihana in the tragedy. AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
The coffins of mother Rehan Kurdi, and Syrian boys Aylan, 3, and Galip, 5, who were washed up drowned on a beach near Turkish resort of Bodrum on Wednesday, are placed in a funeral car in Mugla, Turkey, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Images of Aylan’s body on the beach, have heightened global attention to a wave of migration, driven by war and deprivation, that is unparalleled since World War II. (AP Photos/Emrah Gurel)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

"The story that (Aylan's father) told is untrue. I don't know what made him lie, maybe fear," Jawwad said in Baghdad at his in-laws' house on Friday. "He was the driver from the very beginning until the boat sank."

He said Kurdi swam to them and begged them to cover up his true role in the incident. His wife confirmed the details.

Jawwad said his point of contact with the smugglers was called Abu Hussein. "Abu Hussein told me that he (Kurdi) was the one who organized this trip," he said.

Reuters tried several times to speak to Kurdi by telephone from the Syrian city of Kobane but was unable to reach him. Abu Hussein also could not be reached.

However, Kurdi told Britain's MailOnline that the accusations were untrue.

"I thought about driving the boat but I didn't do it. That is all lies," he said.

"This is not true. If I was a people smuggler, why would I put my family in the same boat as the other people? I paid the same amount to the people smugglers," he told the newspaper.

In comments to Kurdish news outlet Rudaw this week, Kurdi blamed a Turkish smuggler but did not name him.

Amir Haider, 22, another Iraqi who said he was on the same boat, confirmed Jawwad's account and identified Kurdi as the driver. He told Reuters by telephone from Istanbul that he initially thought Kurdi was Turkish because he was not speaking, but later heard him talking to his wife in Syrian Arabic.

A photo of Aylan Kurdi's body in the surf off a popular Turkish holiday resort prompted sympathy and outrage at the perceived inaction of developed nations in helping thousands of refugees using dangerous sea-routes to reach Europe, many of whom have fled Syria's four-year civil war.

(Reporting by Saif Hameed; Writing by Stephen Kalin; editing by Anna Willard)

Read Full Story

People are Reading