Friday, 19 August, 2022

Kidnapping in Iraq, ransom collection in Bangladesh

A group of Bangladeshi expatriates living in Iraq is running several kidnapping gangs, holding their compatriots in hostage for ransom in connivance with gangsters of a few other countries, including the host one.

The rackets are kidnapping Bangladeshi workers from different parts of Iraq and collecting ransom from their families back in Bangladesh after inflicting inhumane torture on the victims in live video calls with their near and dear ones.

Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has found such activities of Bangladeshi expatriates in the war-torn country.

Police said the kidnappers generally invite their targets to their residences after making a good relationship with them.

When any victim visits their residences, they hold him hostage at gunpoint and demand ransom, they said.

Apart from invitation tactics, Bangladeshi expatriates are kidnapped in other ways too, said cops.

Creating pressure on four members of a gang, led by Shihab Uddin, police managed to get eight Bangladeshi expatriates released from the captivity of the racket on June 21.

 The rescued are Apel Mahmood of Chapainawabganj, Sher Ali of Gaibandha, Babul of Rangpur, Maruf of Chandpur, and Mazlu Mia, Rahman, Jihad and Faisal of Kushtia.Apel, a resident of Binodpur in Shibganj upazila of Chapainawabganj, said he and Sher Ali work at a hotel in Iraq.

On June 14, Nahid with whom Sher Ali had got acquainted earlier invited them to his residence in the foreign country to have Bangladeshi foods, he said.

Nahid came to pick them up with a car, Apel said, adding that when they got on the private car, Nahid, Shihab, Shafiqul and Mahfuzul held them hostage at gunpoint and tied their hands and legs and gagged them.

The victims were taken to a house where they were beaten mercilessly with iron rods, he said. Later, the criminals demanded $5,000 as ransom from the victims.

Apel said they cried and begged their lives, but the kidnappers stabbed them in different parts of the body with knives.

At one point, the victims were scalded with a hot spoon and a cooking spud.

Being unable to bear torture, Apel contacted his wife Shilpi Akhter through Imo and asked her to arrange the money, narrated the victim.

The criminals carried out torture on him on video call with his wife. Then, his family members paid the kidnapers Tk 100,000 through a bKash number. Apel said there were 5-7 more victims in the residence.

A general diary was lodged with Shibganj Police Station in this regard.

Police said they came to know that several kidnapping gangs, comprised of nationals of Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Iraq, are active at different parts of Iraq.

Two gangs, led by Bangladeshis, have already been traced, CTTC Additional Deputy Commissioner Tawhidul Islam said.

“Four members of a gang have been identified as Shihab Uddin, Nahid, Shafiq and Sharif while Imran Hossain and Alamgir are helping them from Bangladesh,” he said, adding that two women in Bangladesh have links with the gang and they collect the ransom money.

Tawhidul said they have already identified the two women and trying to arrest them.

Information about two members of another racket has also been found, he said. “The CTTC is working on Bangladeshi members of the second gang.”

About Shihab, the CTTC official said a human trafficking case was filed against him with Airport Police Station in the capital last year. In June, two kidnapping cases were lodged against him with Motijheel Police Station and Gaibandha Sadar Police Station.

He said they have traced the location of Shihab, which is in Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Tawhidul said Nahid has already been arrested by Iraqi police in Bagdad.