Congress asks how accused war criminal became airport guard

War crimes suspect living in U.S., working at airport
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War crimes suspect living in U.S., working at airport 05:41

Story highlights

  • Yusuf Abdi Ali is accused of committing atrocities while he was a military commander during Somalia's brutal civil war
  • Congress is asking how Ali was able to become a U.S. airport security guard

(CNN)Members of Congress are asking the Department of Homeland Security for answers about how an accused war criminal was able to become a security guard at one of the nation's busiest airports.

As CNN exclusively first reported last week, Yusuf Abdi Ali, who is accused of committing atrocities while he was a military commander during Somalia's brutal civil war, has been living outside Washington for about 20 years. A CNN camera captured him guarding a security exit at Dulles International Airport where ticketed passengers leave. He denies the allegations against him and has been placed on administrative leave from his job.
    In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Barbara Comstock say they were "disturbed" by the reports of Ali working at the airport, adding "this case not only has implications for our immigration policy, but also for our aviation and homeland security."
    The letter requests the immigration files of Ali and his wife, Intisar Farah, to "better understand how the couple was able to legally enter the U.S. without raising any red flags."
    Ali was able to enter the U.S. with a visa through his wife -- a Somali woman who became a U.S. citizen -- despite the fact that she was convicted of immigration fraud for lying when she claimed she was a refugee from the very Somali clan that Ali is accused of torturing.
    DHS has known about the allegations against Ali for years, but he passed an FBI criminal background check and a TSA threat assessment to become a security guard at the airport.
    Ali is being sued in civil court for torture. There is no criminal court in the world that can try him for war crimes, as none have the necessary jurisdiction.
    Ali's attorney Joseph Drennan argues that Ali is "immune" to any lawsuits for his activities or alleged crimes in Somalia, as they have nothing to do with the U.S. or his time here.
    "My client has never been adjudicated to have committed any wrongful acts of any sort, much less be correctly seen as a war criminal," Drennan said. "He is not a war criminal."