Abduction, Murder in Libya: ‘Pay the money or else they die’

The Bangladeshi workers who were killed in Mizda town in Libya were kept hostage on the way to Tripoli from Benghazi by a group of international traffickers, comprising Libyans, Bangladeshis and Somalians, who demanded Tk 10 lakh from each of the hostages' families

May 31, 2020
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Dhaka: The Bangladeshi workers who were killed in Mizda town in Libya were kept hostage on the way to Tripoli from Benghazi by a group of international traffickers, comprising Libyans, Bangladeshis and Somalians, who demanded Tk 10 lakh from each of the hostages' families.

Some family members of the victims even paid ransom to the local agents of traffickers yet could not save their family members.

The Daily Star reached the family members of eight of the 26 dead migrant workers belonging to Kishoreganj, Jashore, Madaripur and Faridpur, and came to know that Bangladeshi members of traffickers group called the families last week and demanded USD 12,000 or Tk 10 lakh if they wanted their family member alive.

At least six of the migrant workers from Madaripur and Faridpur left Bangladesh for Libya in January while the two others from Kishoreganj and Jashore reached Benghazi a few months ago and were working there. But all of them were held hostage on the way to Tripoli.


The traffickers either called or sent voice messages demanding money from May 15 to May 26, said family members of the victims.

Kabul Mridha, father of a dead worker identified as Sujan Mridha from Gopalganj, said, a Bangladeshi member of the trafficker gang called them from an account called "Hamari" and gave them a bank account number of Ahmed Mohammed Adham Salama Bank in Somalia and told us to send money there.

"I gave Tk 3.90 lakh to Rob Moral, a resident of Jatrabari village in the upazila, to send to Tripoli on the first week of January," said Kabul, 49.

Rob was an agent of Julhas Sheikh, son of Majid Sheikh in Madaripur, who actually arranged everything to send Sujan to Libya. Sujan left Bangladesh on January 30.

They took Sujan to India and then to Egypt via Dubai. From Egypt, they took him to Benghazi in Libya by bus.

His son used to call him using social media apps. Since January, he spent Tk 58,000 to buy food as the traffickers did not give him proper food.

"I last spoke to my son on May 16 over the phone and he said they will send him to Tripoli very soon. On May 20, we got a voice message from my son, he told us to send Tk 10 lakhs if we want him alive."

Since then Kabul had been trying to contact Rob, he said.

Rajjak Howlader, 45, father of Jewel Howlader, 22, of Madaripur, said, they also sent his son to Libya through Julhas.

"We gave Tk 4 lakh and 10 thousand to Julhas through Md Zahidul, 45, one of our neighbours in January," he said.

On May 20, he got a voice SMS where his son requested him to pay them Tk 10 lakh otherwise they would kill him. He also said the trafficker did not give them any food for two days and tortured them with electric shocks.

"I gave Tk 10 lakh to Julhas on May 24," said Rajjak, adding that on Friday he came to know his son was killed.

Khandakar Sowkat Jahan, officer in-charge of Rajoir Police Station, said, "After hearing the news of the 26 Bangladeshis killing in Libya, locals attacked the house of Julhas on Friday. On information, we rushed to the spot and Julhas told us that he was infected with coronavirus. He gave his sample to get tested on May 26.

"We kept Julhas at Madaripur General Hospital's isolation unit under police supervision. After his coronavirus results comes, we will take the next course of action."

Sohel, bother of dead migrant worker Rakibul from Jashore, said, his brother went to Benghazi in Libya a few months ago and was working there with a low wage.

There, Rakibul met a Bangladeshi called Abdullah, who promised Rakibul that he will be taken to Tripoli and demanded Tk 75,000 for it, Sohel said.  

On May 15, Rakibul and around 40 other Bangladeshis set out for Tripoli from Benghazi and were abducted on way, he said.

Before boarding several vehicles, their phones were taken away by the broker, he added.

"On May 18, we got a call from Rakibul and he told us that he and others were held hostage and being tortured for money. A Bangladeshi, who was among the abductors, also spoke to us. He demanded $12,000 and instructed us to deposit the money to a bank account in Dubai. We assured him of arranging money by selling our land before June 1 and requested him not to torture my brother," Sohel said.

"Meanwhile on May 28, my brother called me using a voice-call app in the early hours and told me that a clash broke out between the abductors and the hostages.

"He told me that he managed the phone from a guard, who was killed in the clash. He sent me his location in Mizda town and asked me to inform my cousin in Tripoli to send police," he said.

"That was the last conversation we had. Meanwhile he and the others were killed by the abductors."

Family members of Kamrul Sheikh from Gopalganj and Rajon Chandra Das from Kishoreganj said the traffickers demanded Tk 10 lakhs and also asked them to send the money to Dubai bank.


https://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/news/abduction-murder-libya-pay-the-money-or-else-they-die-1906834