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Accused Somali war criminal found driving for Uber and Lyft in American suburbs

Wednesday May 15, 2019
By Olivia Rudgard

An alleged Somali war criminal has been working as a driver for Uber and Lyft in the US. Yusuf Abdi Ali has been accused of atrocities committed when he was a military commander in Somalia's civil war in the 1980s.

Now living in Virginia, Alexandria, he has been driving taxis for the two firms for several months and had a rating of 4.89 out of five stars on the Uber app until the company suspended him.

His work for the two firms was revealed by CNN, which also found him working as a security guard at Dulles International Airport near Washington, DC, in 2016, a job he lost shortly after the broadcaster alerted the airport to the allegations.

Uber and Lyft drivers are not employees but undergo a background check which is designed to reveal criminal convictions and driving incidents, as well as searching databases containing information such as terrorist links.

Uber strengthened its background checks last year to make them more frequent. It disqualifies drivers who have been either convicted or charged with serious offences.

Uber suspended him as it reviewed the matter and Lyft has permanently banned him from the platform.

A Lyft spokeswoman said: "The safety of our community is our top priority and we are horrified by the allegations described. Before giving a ride on the Lyft platform, all driver-applicants are screened for criminal offenses and driving incidents in the United States.

"We have permanently banned this driver from our community and stand ready to assist law enforcement with any investigation."

Mr Ali is currently facing a civil case in a Virginia federal court brought by a man who claims to have been a victim of torture on his orders in 1988.

The lawsuit accuses him of orchestrating a "brutal counterinsurgency campaign that refused to distinguish between civilians and combatants" during the late 1980s. Mr Ali has denied all allegations against him.


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