An Uber driver with a near-perfect five-star rating has just been outed as an accused Somali war criminal who carried out acts of torture, according to a new report.
Yusuf Abdi Ali — an alleged military commander in Somalia’s civil war in the 1980s — was recently caught behind the wheel of an Uber by CNN.
“They just want your background check, that’s it,” Ali said, unaware that he was being recorded by reporters.
The disturbing revelation raises questions about the thoroughness of the application process for ride share apps like Uber and Lyft.
Ali hasn’t been convicted of a crime but the report noted that a cursory Google search of his name turns up news stories of his alleged atrocities, including that he shot an abductee five times at point-blank range following months of torture in 1988.
The victim, a Somali farmer named Farhan Warfaa, has filed suit against Ali — known as “Colonel Tukeh” — in Virginia federal court, according to the Guardian.
Witnesses in a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary also claimed that Ali committed other sickening acts of violence — which he’s denied, according to CNN.
“Two men were caught, tied to a tree,” one witness said. “Oil was poured on them and they were burnt alive. I saw it with my own eyes. I cut away their remains.”
Another witness added, “He caught my brother. He tied him to a military vehicle and dragged him behind. … He shredded him into pieces. That’s how he died.”
Ali’s Uber profile indicated that he’d been driving for about 18 months in suburban Virginia. He was ranked as an “Uber Pro Diamond” with a 4.89 rating.
He also worked as a security guard at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, DC but was fired in 2016 after CNN ran a segment on him.
An Uber spokesperson told CNN that the company has suspended him pending review of the war-crime allegations against him.
The company said all drivers “must undergo a driving and criminal history background check reviewing local, state and national records, and we evaluate eligibility in accordance with criteria set by local laws.”
Last year, Uber beefed up its background check policy to include more frequent checks. It also now disqualifies drivers with criminal convictions, as well as drivers who have not been convicted but are charged with serious crimes.
Lyft, meanwhile, said it permanently banned Ali, who hadn’t driven for the app since September 2018.
“The safety of our community is our top priority and we are horrified by the allegations described,” a spokeswoman said. “Before giving a ride on the Lyft platform, all driver-applicants are screened for criminal offenses and driving incidents in the United States.”
Ali came to the US on a visa through his Somali wife, who became a US citizen. But in 2006, she was found guilty of immigration fraud for claiming she was a refugee from the very Somali tribe Ali is accused of torturing.
Ali declined to comment to CNN when approached outside the courthouse in Virginia this week.
His lawyer, Joseph Peter Drennan, said Warfaa’s suit was politically motivated to benefit the self-declared breakaway state of Somaliland.
New York Post