Alan Kurdi’s father worked with human smuggler and captained boat that capsized, survivor says

An Iraqi woman who was on the same boat as , the boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach last week, says his father was in charge of the boat that capsized, drowning many of the migrants on board.

The woman, Zainab Abbas, lost two of her own children on the fateful crossing, and is now back in Iraq. She told Channel Ten news in Australia in an interview that Abdullah Kurdi was driving the boat. She also accused him of being part of a ring of smugglers who help refugees make their way to Europe.

YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty ImagesYASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty ImagesAbdullah Kurdi stands in Alan's room on Sept. 6, 2015 in Kobane.

“He was a smuggler, yes. He was the one that was driving the boat,” the woman told the channel through a translator, according to Australia’s Daily Telegraph.

Abdullah Kurdi lost both his sons and his wife on the crossing and has repeatedly said he only took over steering the boat when the captain abandoned ship in rough waters.

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But Abbas said Kurdi was in charge all along. The man who collected thousands for her for the dangerous journey to Europe, where her family had sought to escape the Islamic State, even reassured her the journey would be safe as the captain was bringing his wife and two children along, Abbas claims. She also said Kurdi was speeding when the boat flipped over and begged other passengers not to turn him into Turkish police.

AP Photo/DHAAP Photo/DHAA paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of Alan Kurdi, 3, after he died trying to reach the Greek island of Kos.

At least 12 people drowned when the boat capsized, and many of their bodies washed up on a Turkish beach. The image of little Alan Kurdi lying dead on the sand sparked international outrage and has become an election issue in this country’s federal campaign as leaders debate Canada’s response to the refugee crisis.

The boy’s father has told many international outlets the family was hoping to eventually reach Canada, where they have family in B.C.

He denies Abbas’s claims he was a “people smuggler” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

“I lost my family, I lost my life, I lost everything, so let them say whatever they want,” he said.

In the same interview, Abbas called on the Australian government to grant her and her family asylum so they can escape the war in Iraq.

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