Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Convicted people smuggler back in action in Indonesia

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People smuggling operations

Our undercover investigation in Jakarta shows a mid-level smuggler speaking to potential clients about smuggling operations in Indonesia.

One of the biggest people smugglers from John Howard's time as prime minister has moved back to Indonesia and back into the trade after seven years in jail including six in Australia.

A new secretly recorded video, obtained by Fairfax Media and the ABC, shows a middle-level operative openly spruiking the services of Hasan Ayoub, a Pakistani kingpin who was last active in Indonesia more than 12 years ago.

In the video shot in May, operative Rajab tells a group of potential clients that Ayoub was arranging boats from Java to Christmas Island for a price of between $4000 and $4600 per passenger.

Hasan Ayoub during his arrest.

Hasan Ayoub during his arrest. Photo: AP

The news that a man jailed for people smuggling in Australia is back in action is embarrassing for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, as he is expected to press the Indonesians for a stronger law enforcement response to the issue at meetings with president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Friday.


Ayoub, also known as Naeem Ahamad Chaudry, was one of the biggest people smugglers in the rash of irregular migration in 2000 and 2001, which prompted John Howard to provoke the Tampa crisis and enact the Pacific Solution.

A people smuggler source has revealed that, two of the current operatives in Indonesia, Billu (Javed Mehmud Bhat) and Nana (Zahid Parvez) worked for Ayoub at the time.

An Afghan asylum seeker is searched by Australian Customs after arriving on Christmas Island in April.

An Afghan asylum seeker is searched by Australian Customs after arriving on Christmas Island in April. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Ayoub was caught by Cambodian police with Australian help in a sting operation in 2001, then extradited in 2002 from Thailand to face charges in Perth. In 2004 he was sentenced to 12 years in jail, less time served for bringing 399 people to Australia on two boats. He was paroled four years later, in December 2008, and deported from Australia in January 2009.

Since then he has been quiet, but the video suggests the 44-year-old is now back in Indonesia and back plying his old trade.

''If you guys go with Hasan Ayoub, as much as I can, I'll get the rate down for you,'' the operative Rajab says to a group of potential customers.

Rajab says Ayoub has re-established a network which includes moneymen, or Hawaladars, in Kabul and Jaghori (near Ghazni) in Afghanistan, and in Quetta, Pakistan. The Hawaladar is a third party who holds the money in trust for passengers, and releases it to the people smuggler once the passengers have safely reached their destination.

However, Rajab is disparaging of his boss, saying he's only working for Ayoub to pay off a debt.

''Hasan never cares about his passengers,'' Rajab, an ethnic Hazara man, says of the Pakistani, also describing him as ''an arsehole'' and saying he is ''old, he has a white beard''.

''My brother used to work for him. But now this arsehole has lived with Hazaras and he thinks we are all like stupid sheep. Just stupid sheep who don't know anything.''

Rajab claims Ayoub, whom he calls Hasan or Haji in the video, is responsible for a recent boat sinking, though it's not clear which one he is talking about.

''Hasan has a bad reputation. He is a non-Hazara. This one time he sent a boat and it made a sound like 'crunch'. It was old, it was small. He put 100 or 110 people on the boat. The just didn't fit. It was over capacity,'' Rajab says.

The video is the second obtained by Fairfax Media and the ABC to throw a light on the nitty gritty of the people smuggling trade in Indonesia. The first showed a high-level smuggler, Freddy Ambon, boasting of the strong connections between one syndicate and corrupt Indonesian police.

Mr Rudd flew to Indonesia on Thursday evening and will meet Mr Yudhoyono at his palace in the picturesque town of Bogor on Friday.

He is likely to ask the president to redouble Indonesia's efforts to catch and imprison people smugglers and the corrupt officials who assist them.
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