A woman says Abdullah Kurdi is a people smuggler who begged her not to tell on him after their boat capsized, killing his son Alan.
Zainab Abbas said Abdullah Kurdi had lied to the world after the image of his dead three-year-old son on a Turkish beach sparked a global outpouring of support for Syrian refugees.
“Yes, it was Abdullah Kurdi driving the boat,” Ms Abbas told Network Ten through her cousin Lara Tahseen on Friday.
Ms Abbas also lost two children when the boat capsized shortly after leaving Bodrum for the Greek islands.
After the tragedy, Mr Kurdi told the media he took over steering the boat after the captain panicked and jumped ship.
But Ms Abbas said Mr Kurdi was the driver of the boat, and the man she paid to book her passage told her it would be safe because the driver was taking his wife and two children.
“When I lost my kids, I lost my life, how can he lie to the media?” her cousin Ms Tahseen said, translating for Ms Abbas.
“He said, ‘Please don’t dob me in.’ That was in the water.”
Ms Abbas said Mr Kurdi was speeding in the overcrowded boat, which did not have enough life jackets.
She said her husband told him to be careful just before the boat capsized, reportedly killing at least 12 people.
Ms Abbas is now in Iraq and her family has called on the federal government to include them in the 12,000 refugees Australia has pledged to take in.