An alleged war criminal is on trial. You may have taken a ride with him on Uber or Lyft in Virginia

Stephen Hyduchak
May 19 · 3 min read

CNN journalists went undercover to take a ride with an ex-Somali colonel Yusuf Abdi Ali and record the trip on video. His Uber profile stated he had been part of the ride-sharing service for almost 18 months.

Now, he is in federal court this week facing accusations that he tortured and tried to kill an accused Somali dissident in the 1980s. Ali has lived in the United States since the 1990s, the lawsuit says, after he spent five years as a commander in Somalia’s national army. He told CNN that he drives ride-sharing passengers full time and prefers weekend shifts because “that’s where the money is.”

A civil court jury in Alexandria is evaluating a 14-year-old lawsuit alleging that Ali shot a Somali man, Farhan Mohamoud Tani Warfaa, while interrogating him in 1988. Warfaa says he survived only because he bribed his assigned gravediggers to save him.

Uber Steps In

A spokeswoman for Uber, Jodi Page, has said the company immediately removed his access to the app and is reviewing the situation. Lyft has chosen to permanently ban Ali and offered to help law enforcement.

Supposedly, Ali was able to pass background checks because he has not faced criminal charges inside the United States. This presents an issue for digital companies and service providers. America is known as the melting pot and that means the ethnicity demographic are global immigrants. Checks to transpose globally and contractor verification is even more important today. A name check that someone provides is not simply good enough.

AI and Visual Watchlist Checking

The Bridge Marketplace is fluid and designed for KYC/AML providers to compete and make their services better and cheaper over time. But, evolution is slow from the outside and evolving sometimes has to be done by those who hear the needs of the customers everyday.

In the coming months, Bridge will be partnering with Aver. Aver is a global identity provider to stop these issues from ever happening again.

The flaw in the system has been the cost; KYC/AML has been expensive especially with millions of users. Reducing the cost, making the credits renewable and offer visual searching is the next phase of ID verification service.

We have seen from our experience that criminals often use an alias and forged documents, what this means is that AI and pattern searching on facial detection has to be even more precise.

This will allow Aver to find and flag those that want to skirt the systems in place.

Government Systems Need To Do Better

Ali has previously come under fire for working security at Dulles International Airport.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority told CNN at the time that the FBI had performed a criminal-background check on Ali and the Transportation Security Administration had done a threat assessment.

The Department of Homeland Security said the results of Ali’s security screening did not disqualify him from employment, CNN reported. Ali has also worked as a security guard in Toronto, according to CNN. Canada deported him in 1992 after a broadcast news program accused him of war crimes in Somalia, the New York Times reported.

Stephen Hyduchak

Written by

Blockchain, AI and Cannabis keep me up at night. CEO of Bridge Protocol and Aver.