Some private contractors are accused of abusive labor practices on U.S. military bases in the Middle East

Abdulla is one of thousands of people allegedly trafficked into labor by private contractors on U.S. military bases — where workers have been paid less than promised, charged recruiting fees that leave them deep in debt, and pressured to sign improper contracts and work long hours, according to government reports. In some cases, they even faced physical abuse. 

NBC News, in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, The Washington Post, and Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism, interviewed more than 40 current and former employees of contractors at military bases. NBC News combed through thousands of pages of congressional testimony, reports from the Justice and the Defense departments, Securities and Exchange Commission filings, and other documents to reveal which companies were accused of trafficking workers or determined to have trafficked them. 

“Our taxpayer dollars are being used potentially to support forced labor and human trafficking and that’s just unacceptable,” said Latesha Love, a director at the GAO’s International Affairs and Trade team, which has repeatedly probed labor trafficking on U.S. military bases. “The way that [workers] are treated is similar to what some might call modern-day slavery.”

NBC Some private contractors are accused of abusive labor practices on U.S. military bases in the Middle East