Kamal Uddin had trafficked over 400 people to Libya in the last 10 years. Some of the Bangladeshis killed and injured in Libya on Thursday were among them. The man even forced some of the victims’ families to pay ransom recently when they were tortured in Libya, days before being killed.
Rab came up with the information hours after arresting Kamal Uddin alias” Haji Kamal” (55), an alleged ringleader of a human trafficking gang, from the city’s Shahjadpur area this morning.
“We got proof that families of two Bangladeshi victims — Lalchan and Tarikul — first paid Kamal Tk 3 lakh for each before they left Bangladesh. As they reached Libya, each family gave him Tk 4 lakh again,” Lt Col Rakibul Hasan, commanding officer of Rab-3, told The Daily Star.
The Rab official said they also received complaints from families of other victims.
Kamal and his agents used to force the families of the fortune-seekers to pay money when his associates in Libya would hold their dear ones captive and torture them, Rab officials said.
Kamal in primarily interrogation claimed that he used to send some of the money to his counterparts through “hundi”, an illegal transaction channel.
A diary recovered from Kamal’s possession during arrest has records of his crimes and also reveals names and other information of at least 10 local and foreign agents, Rab officials said. They did not, however, reveal their names.
It was Kamal’s local agents who used to lure fortune-seekers in remote villages with promises of high-paying jobs in Libya and European countries.
Kalam, a tiles contractor, also used to encourage his co-workers to go abroad for a better life, Rab said.
He used to ask his clients to pay Tk one to three lakh first and then Tk 4 lakh after reaching Libya, and additional two to three lakh for migrating to European counties later.
Gullible people used to step into the trap and their ordeals would start soon after leaving Bangladesh, the Rab official said, adding that the gang used to manage passports and visas for the victims.
The traffickers used different routes. Bangladesh-Kolkata-Mumbai-Dubai-Egypt-Bengazi-Tripoli (Libya) is the latest route they are using. The gang’s foreign agents used to handle the victims and kept them confined for days at every landing station.
Once they reached Libya’s Tripoli, some Bangladeshi people living there would receive them. They were later handed to local gangs who would keep them confined and torture them for money. The traffickers used to film the horrifying torture and sent the videos to family members back home through different messaging apps to force them to pay ransom, Rab officials said.
Sometimes, the trapped people are allowed to make calls to their families, only to hear their screaming over the phone, Rab officials said quoting the arrestee and the family members of the victims.
In the process of being trafficked to Europe, many died in the sea or the desert. Many starved for days or weeks before they got arrested while many were killed by traffickers — similar to what happened on Thursday, Rab officials said.
On that day, 38 Bangladeshis and some Africans were held hostage by Libyan criminals, who could be human traffickers. The traffickers demanded money, although the victims had earlier paid up to $10,000 each.
At one stage, the main trafficker was killed by an African. In return, other members of the trafficking gang fired shots at the Bangladeshis and Africans, leaving 26 Bangladeshis dead.
Rab claimed they recovered passports of at least 31 people during Kamal’s arrest who were about to go to Libya through the process.