Behind The Media Propaganda: Father Of “Drowned Syrian Boy” Was People Smuggler
To a certain extent, the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” is unavoidable for anyone, but we don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Western society and especially the American public, exhibit a generalized ignorance to events taking place beyond their borders that’s completely out of synch with the degree to which most Westerners have easy access to information. That is, if the US public cared to know what was going on outside of suburbia and beyond the Starbucks drive-throughs and the strip mall Targets they most certainly could find out, but that would likely mean discovering all manner of really inconvenient and often disturbing things and so, at the end of the day, willful ignorance allows everyone to perpetuate the myth that everything is fine. For its part, the media is more than happy to expose harsh realities as long as they’re conducive to ratings so, for instance, “unarmed black teen shot 18 times by angry white police officer” works well, while “Syria’s bloody civil war continues unabated” does not because to the largely ignorant public, Syria might as well be Mars and if for some inexplicable reason, life or death ended up coming down to being able to correctly identify Syria on an unlabeled map, well, it would be time to start praying.
Sometimes, however, the media stumbles across or, more likely, is fed an image or a series of images that are so indelible that they’re forced to run them, and the public consciousness is, if but for a fleeting moment, jarred out of its perpetual stupor. That’s what happened in 2013 when YouTube videos appeared to show the victims of a so-called “gas attack” that Bashar al-Assad decided, apparently out of the clear blue sky, to launch on his own people even though were the story true, it would seem to have been a rather peculiar strategy given that the strongman was fully aware that the US was just waiting on an excuse to launch a few cruise missiles. Then, a little more than two years later, we got another example of imagery powerful enough to focus the public’s attention on a far-away civil war when the body of a drowned toddler washed up on a beach in Turkey.
And even though connecting the proverbial dots isn’t something everyday Westerners are particularly adept at, it wasn’t too difficult for the media to paint the picture: 1) drowned toddler was a refugee, 2) there’s a refugee crisis thanks largely to a war going on in a place called Syria which isn’t on Mars but is in fact in the Middle East, 3) this place called Syria is where ISIS is, 4) the Russians are there too. It would be difficult to come up with a narrative more conducive to rallying public support for an invasion if you were trying. And indeed, maybe someone was trying, because as Reuters reports, the drowned child’s father might not have been a fleeing migrant after all, but rather a people smuggler and Aylan might have been on the boat not because his family intended to save their child from the horrific violence escalating daily in Syria, but rather because profiting off of other people’s misery was his father’s chosen profession and he often brought his family along for the ride. Reuters has the story, excerpts from which are presented below.
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.
“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.
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.