War Criminals Among Us: Inside the Quiet Effort to Prosecute and Deport Violators Disguised as Refugees


For decades, war criminals have lived alongside those they tortured or displaced. Under the guise of being a refugee, they have sought new lives in America. But quiet efforts are underway to expose and punish as many of these hidden offenders as possible — and ensure none find a lasting haven in the United States.

They could be your Uber driver or the security guard at a local airport. The elderly neighbor living next door or the operator of the neighborhood ice cream shop. They came to the United States from all corners of the globe -- Somalia, Rwanda, El Salvador, the Balkans, Germany, Iraq – claiming to have been persecuted. In reality, they were the persecutors.

Using litigation, transnational justice, and policy advocacy to bring human rights abusers to justice, CJA, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, has taken on cases involving crimes from El Salvador, Guatemala, the Balkans, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Chile, and other countries.

Just over a month ago, CJA obtained a win when a U.S. jury ruled Somali native Yusuf Abdi Ali shot and tortured at least one other refugee — who now also lives in the U.S. — when Ali served as a commander in the national army in Somalia’s civil war. Up until the trial in May, Ali drove for Uber and Lyft in Virginia. A jury awarded the torture survivor some $500,000 in damages in the CJA case.

Read more here.

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