Mohammed Farah, a community organizer in the troubled Dixon Road neighbourhood in northwest Toronto, was approached by a man in January who wanted to sell the now infamous video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine with several local men suspected of criminal involvement. He agreed to be a broker between the man, now known to be Mohamed Siad, and two media outlets, which viewed the video but did not purchase it. CBC/Canadian Press
The man who tried to broker the sale of the video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine has told CBC's the fifth estate that residents in the Dixon Road neighbourhood in northwest Toronto were approached by individuals who offered a "suitcase of money" for the video.
"They were some people in the neighbourhood, I would say people that are in organized crime … that drove in and showed people [a] suitcase of money and said, 'Hey, look, whoever has the video, put them in contact with us. This is their cash, their money,'" Mohamed Farah told the fifth estate's Gillian Findlay in a report that will air for a second time Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on CBC News Network.
Threatening phone calls seeking video
Farah is a well-known community organizer in the Dixon Road neighbourhood, which has a reputation for gun crime and violence. In an extensive interview with the fifth estate, he said the men in "fancy cars" flashing cash came around soon after the Toronto Star broke the story of the video and after the U.S. gossip website Gawker, which had also been offered the video, started raising money on Kickstarter to buy it.
Farah said that soon he started hearing that the offers to buy the video had turned into threats, coming from people he was told had close connections to the mayor.
"There were phone calls coming in from people claiming to be ex-military, claiming to be a police officer, saying, 'Look, if you guys don't pass the video or find the video, we'll arrest you guys, or we'll have you guys executed or some crazy stuff like that,'" Farah told Findlay of the fifth estate.
Findlay: "There were threats made to people?"
Farah: "There were actual threats made, yeah,yeah."
Findlay: "On behalf of the mayor's office?"
Farah: "Yeah, on behalf of the mayor's, yeah."
Findlay: "They said they were calling on behalf of Rob Ford?"
Farah: "Right right."
Farah himself, who is known in the neighbourhood as a peacemaker, had been approached in January by MohammedSiad, an alleged dealer of drugs and guns who had the now infamous video and asked Farah to help him sell it. (Farah did not name Siad in the fifth estate interview, but the Toronto Star has reported that he was the man trying to sell the video to the paper with the help of a person the Star has to date only called "the broker.")
Farah told the fifth estate Siad wanted to get money for the video so he and his girlfriend could leave the city and start a new life.
“He showed me one video of Mayor Rob Ford. And when I seen that video, I was pretty shocked. I was taken back by it."
Video broker arrested in Project Traveller raids
It wasn't until March, however, that Farah approached Star reporter Robyn Doolittle, who describes that first encounter in the fifth estate report.
The Star refused to pay for the video but viewed its contents and described what was on it in an extensive published report.
Farah said he doesn't know what happened to the video after that and that Siad disappeared the day the article came out.
"The next day it was in the papers; that same night he left," Farah told the fifth estate.
Siad would later be arrested as part of the Project Traveller raids targeting a suspected drug and gun ring operated by the Dixon City Bloods gang and was stabbed in jail soon after his arrest. He faces numerous charges, including participating in a criminal organization, conspiracy and trafficking guns and cocaine.
Farah was also swept up in the same police raids, carried out at several addresses in the Etobicoke and North York areas of Toronto. He was arrested after police found a gun in the home he shares with his mother. He was held for one night in detention and is now out on bail.
He faces five charges as a result of that arrest, including possession of the proceeds of crime and several charges related to the possession and careless storage of an unauthorized firearm. His mother faces the same gun-related charges, but not the proceeds of crime charge.
Farah does not have a previous criminal record, but his brother is known to police.
Farah told the fifth estate the gun was found "rolled up in carpet or something" and that he doesn't know how it got into his house or who owns it.
"People that know me know that I've never been one to carry a gun around," he told the fifth estate.
Ford a fixture in Dixon Road neighbourhood
With regard to the behaviour that appears on the video Farah was asked to help sell, he told the fifth estate that while he has never personally seen Ford doing drugs, the mayor was a regular fixture in the Dixon Road neighbourhood that local residents reported seeing Ford consume drugs there on several occasions.
Farah said that in 2011, Ford started to be seen hanging around 15 Windsor Rd., the house that would later feature in photos published by the Star that show Ford with three suspected gang members, one of them being Anthony Smith, who was gunned down outside a Toronto nightclub in March. Police have described the residence as a crack house.
"I heard his [Ford's] name come up as someone that kinda hangs out once in a while … comes there, drives through, and watches the hockey game, has a few beers and jokes … with some of the guys in the house," Farah told the fifth estate.
"Last summer is when I heard the mayor does hardcore drugs — crack cocaine, for example."
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