It is all over the news so I’m sure you’ve seen it, but what struck me was a CNN cable news report this morning (you know I watch them for a little bit every day) and a female reporter asked Yusuf Abdi Ali, “Do you deserve to live here?”
Wow! CNN actually asked that question a couple of times (of course he didn’t answer). What is going on with CNN? The lengthy report actually tells us how he came to be living in the US and it involves fraud in the US refugee program.
As I said on several previous occasions, if you want to find a topic to satisfy a yen to write a blog, write a blog and call it New American Somali Watch?’
Material is available on a daily basis!
Accused of War Crimes and Torture, Uber and Lyft Hired Him
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Where does an alleged war criminal accused of torture and directing mass executions look for work while living in the United States? For Yusuf Abdi Ali, there was an easy answer: Uber and Lyft.
Within a couple of days of applying to be a ride-share driver, Ali said he was approved to shuttle passengers from place to place. He’s been doing it for more than 18 months, according to his Uber profile.
When CNN reporters recently caught a ride from Ali, the former Somali military commander was listed on Uber’s app as an “Uber Pro Diamond” driver with a 4.89 rating.
“I do this full time,” said Ali, who drives in suburban Virginia. He explained that he prefers to drive during weekends because “that’s where the money is.”
Ali said he has driven for Lyft, too, but he prefers working for Uber. His white Nissan Altima had only an Uber sticker on it. Asked if the application process was difficult, Ali replied that it was a breeze.
“They just want your background check, that’s it,” said Ali, who was unaware that undercover CNN reporters were riding with him and recording the trip on video. “If you apply tonight maybe after two days it will come, you know, everything.”
Ali’s work as a ride-share driver raises new questions about the thoroughness of Uber and Lyft’s background check process and the ease with which some people with controversial pasts can get approved to drive.
Ali has not been convicted of a crime, but a basic internet search of his name turns up numerous documents and news accounts alleging he committed various atrocities while serving as a military commander during Somalia’s civil war in the 1980s.
His past was detailed in a documentary by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that featured eyewitnesses in northern Somalia who described killings allegedly committed under the direction of Ali, also known as “Colonel Tukeh.”
Uber and Lyft’s background checks are mostly performed by a separate company called Checkr, which uses applicants’ names and Social Security numbers to search for information in a national sex offender database, federal and local court records and databases used to flag suspected terrorists and others, representatives from the companies said.
A Checkr spokesperson told CNN that its background checks “rely on public criminal records that have been adjudicated in a court of law rather than unverified sources like Google search results. Similarly, most employers don’t request background checks that include pending civil litigation due to its subjective nature.”
This week, Ali is defending himself against a civil suit filed in federal court in Virginia by a man who claims he was one of Ali’s victims in 1988. Farhan Mohamoud Tani Warfaa alleged in court documents that Ali tortured and shot him and ordered bodyguards to bury his body. The guards recognized that Warfaa, a farmer, had not died and accepted a bribe from his family to release him, according to documents.
Now here is what I was most interested in—how did he come to be living among us as a ‘new American?’
According to public accounts, Ali moved to Canada after the Somali military regime he worked under collapsed in 1991. He was deported after news about his alleged war crimes in Somalia became public through that CBC documentary.
Ali entered the United States on a visa through his Somali wife who became a US citizen. In 2006, his wife was found guilty of naturalization fraud for claiming she was a refugee from the very Somali clan that Ali is accused of torturing.
There is much more, continue reading here.