Jun. 2, 2016 2:58pm Tré Goins-Phillips
A Somali national accused of leading mass executions and torturing people during his country’s bloody civil war in the 1980s has been working as a security guard at the Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C, passing through all TSA and FBI checks for the past six years.
Yusuf Abdi Ali, who is living in Alexandria, Virginia, was discovered by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, according to Fox 5. Ali had been through the full, federally mandated vetting process required to obtain an airport badge, officials said.
Since the revelation, Ali has been placed on administrative leave, and his airport access has been revoked. Airport officials said that they are aware the Somali native was named in a lawsuit filed by a human rights group in 2006 for crimes against humanity. According to CNN, the case has faced several appeals and is headed to the Supreme Court.
“The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority maintains a contract with Master Security to provide unarmed security services,” MWAA spokesman Rob Yingling said. “Master Security’s employees are subject to the full, federally-mandated vetting process in order to be approved for an airport badge, including a criminal history records check by the FBI and a security threat assessment by the TSA.”
Tingling said the authority has “verified that all of these processes were followed and approved” when it comes to Ali.
The MWAA also said it was unaware of the pending litigation involving Ali and is now reviewing the information surrounding that case.
The U.S. government has been aware of Ali for several years, officials told CNN, “based upon allegations that he had been involved in human rights violations.” They declined to provide any further information.
“He oversaw some of the most incredible violence that you can imagine,” Kathy Roberts, a lawyer for the Center of Justice and Accountability, which is leading the civil lawsuit, told CNN. “He tortured people personally; he oversaw torture.”
A government regime led by Mohamed Siad Barre took power in 1969 and ruled dictatorially following a coup in Somalia. Ali served as a commander in the regime and is accused of terrorizing Isaaq, the once-dominant clan in the country’s northern region.
“He tied [my brother] to military vehicle and dragged him behind. He said to us if you’ve got enough power, get him back,” one survivor said on a 1992 CBC documentary. “He shredded him into pieces. That’s how he died.”
However, Ali denies all the accusations of violence, claiming they are both “false” and “baseless.”
“How dare anyone call him a war criminal,” Joseph Peter Drennan, Ali’s lawyer, said. “If he is indeed a war criminal, take him to The Hague. Or if he is a war criminal, take it up with the immigration authorities. Don’t sue him in an American court.”
“My client deserves to live in the U.S. just as any other legal permanent resident,” he added.
Ali first came to the United States on a visa through his wife, who became a citizen. She was found guilty in 2006 of naturalization fraud, after claiming to be a refugee from Somalia’s Isaaq clan.