Colonel Yusuf Abdi Ali (a.k.a. Tukeh) is a native of Somalia and a permanent resident of the United States. Col. Tukeh, commanded the Somali National Army’s Fifth Brigade in the late 1980s, giving him authority over the remote northern town of Gebiley (in what is today the self-declared Republic of Somaliland) and the areas surrounding it.
Throughout the 1980s, Somali National Army forces terrorized the local Isaaq population, conducting mass arbitrary detentions, subjecting civilians to cruel and inhumane treatment and torture, including starvation and beatings, and engaging in mass summary executions. Military forces burned homes and ransacked the livestock of rural and nomadic people. These human rights abuses were the hallmark of the military government that came to power in 1969 and brutally ruled Somalia until it was toppled in 1991.
CJA’s case alleged that Colonel Tukeh, while serving as commander of the Fifth Brigade, directed and participated in a military campaign against Isaaq people in the northwestern region of Somalia, refusing to distinguish between civilians and combatants. In one such event, soldiers under Tukeh’s command arbitrarily arrested Farhan Mohamoud Tani Warfaa and detained him at the Fifth Brigade Headquarters. There, Tukeh and his men subjected Farhan to repeated interrogations and torture until he was finally shot and left for dead.
Col. Tukeh was in the United States in 1990 when the Barre regime was on the verge of collapse. Fleeing to Canada, he applied for asylum there but was deported in October 1992 based on evidence of his brutality. Facing deportation from the U.S., he was allowed to voluntarily depart the country in 1994. Nonetheless, in 1996, Col. Tukeh was permitted to return to the United States.
Col. Tukeh lives in Fairfax, Virginia. The case against him was adjudicated before the Eastern District of Virginia, where Col. Tukeh was found responsible for torture and ordered to pay $500,000 in damages.