Ericsson Workers Kidnapped By Islamic State
Ericsson put its contractors’ lives in risk by sending them to work in Iraqi territory occupied by the Islamic State, resulting in their kidnapping by militants.
This is according to a leaked report from the company, which also reveals that Ericsson paid off Islamic State to access transportation routes controlled by the terrorist group, in order to avoid Iraqi customs.
CEO Borje Ekholm told a Swedish newspaper that an internal probe found payments were made to access IS-controlled areas.
He told Swedish paper Dagens Industri the company could not “determine the final recipients” of the money.
Ericsson released a statement, admitting to “serious breaches of compliance rules and the company’s code of business ethics” in Iraq between 2011 and 2019. It said an internal probe, undertook in 2019, found “evidence of corruption-related misconduct”.
Ericsson’s insistance on remaining in Iraq following the fall of Mosul in 2014, despite a senior lawyer recommending the telco ceases operations in the region, put lives at risk.
A man known only as ‘Affan’ tells German public broadcaster NDR he was among a number of field contractors taken hostage by IS. An IS fighter used his phone to contact Ericsson management and demanded A$3.3 million to work in the territory.
“He said that if you do not pay, this person you sent and everyone else who works for you will be hunted down by us, we will bring them here. One by one.”
Affan says that the Ericsson manager stopped answering the IS calls.
“He abandoned me, he turned off the phone and disappeared.”
One of the company’s partners “made arrangements” to secure Affan and work continued in Mosul.
A senior government telecoms official in Mosul told the BBC: “Ericsson knew well what was going on. There is not a sane person who would deal directly with IS, they all do it through the subcontractors.
“Militants would take a percentage from every cent paid in Mosul on any project or work. This is how they accumulated millions.”