An Alleged War Criminal Drove For Uber​

August 13, 2019
A man who has been accused of committing torture and mass executions was allowed to drive for both Uber and Lyft.
Backgrounds Online | August 13, 2019


A man who has been accused of committing torture and mass executions was allowed to drive for both Uber and Lyft.

The Alleged War Criminal

Yusuf Abdi Ali was a military commander in Somali many years ago. He stands accused of heinous war crimes including torture and mass murder. Some time back, he left Somali and relocated to Virginia. Reporters from CNN discovered he was working there as an Uber driver. He’d also done some driving for Lyft.

While Ali has not been convicted of any crimes, there are numerous allegations about him from a time when he served under Siad Barre. CNN conducted an investigation and reported that despite the many accusations against him, Ali was allowed to drive passengers for two well-known transportation companies.

Since CNN’s report was released, both Uber and Lyft have publicly announced that they were implementing stronger background screening policies. This includes running comprehensive criminal records searches and annual screenings that show if a current driver incurs a new record. Uber also released a statement to say they are establishing a policy that prohibits the hiring of drivers who have been charged with serious offenses.

CNN Spoke With Ali

Ali told a CNN representative that it was easy to get a job with Uber. He was asked to authorize a background check, but within a couple days was cleared for duty. After working for about 18 months, Ali earned a 4.80 rating and was listed as a “Pro Diamond Driver.”

CNN also discovered that Ali is fighting a civil suit from a man who claims to have been one of his victims. Farhan Mohamoud Tani Warfaa alleges that Ali tortured and shot him. He claims that his family bribed other soldiers to spare his life. This case has been filed in a Virginia federal court. The suit alleges that Ali created a "brutal counterinsurgency campaign that refused to distinguish between civilians and combatants."

Uber And Lyft Respond

After CNN released their story, Uber suspended Ali’s access to the Driver’s app. Though he had not driven for them in quite some time, Lyft permanently banned Ali from their platform.

A spokesperson from Lyft commented on this story: "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."

The Urgency Of Comprehensive Background Checks

Uber has implemented stronger background screening policies in recent times. Stories like the one from CNN cause people to wonder if their practices are strict enough. A representative who is involved in Uber’s background screening process commented that their reports only include “criminal records that have been adjudicated in a court of law” and would not contain “pending civil litigation due to its subjective nature."

Hiring someone who has a serious criminal history could result in a loss of trust for any brand. It is essential to be able to show that your business performed due diligence by running comprehensive background checks. These reports help employers determine a candidate’s eligibility and qualifications. They also inform the employer if an applicant has violent or otherwise serious criminal convictions.

If you need to run background checks to protect your organization, please contact us. Our experienced team can help you build custom screening packages that help you make informed decisions and create a safe work environment. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.