One of the men who tried to sell a video alleged to show Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine says some people in Toronto’s Dixon neighbourhood received death threats and offers of cash after news of the explosive video became public in May.
Mohamed Farah, who attempted for weeks to broker a sale of the Ford video to several media organizations, ended his silence in television interviews aired on Friday on CBC’s the fifth estate and CityNews.
The video has never surfaced publicly, but Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair revealed last week that officers recovered a copy consistent with descriptions of it from a computer hard drive seized in mid-June raids targeting the Dixon neighbourhood in west Toronto, not far from the mayor’s home.
Mr. Farah, 33, was one of dozens of people arrested and charged in the raids. He was granted bail and faces five charges, including possession of a prohibited firearm with ammunition and possessing proceeds of crime.
In his television interviews, Mr. Farah said people in expensive cars showed up in Dixon after stories about the video were published on May 16.
“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,” Mr. Farah told the fifth estate. “[They] said, ‘Hey, look, whoever has the video, put them in contact with us. This is their cash, their money.’”
Requests for the video soon turned violent, Mr. Farah said.
“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.”
Mr. Farah, who has worked with a community organization that helps Somali-Canadians, told CityNews several copies of the video were made. One copy was stored in Toronto and one was placed outside the city. He said he does not know whether the mayor acquired the video.
Mr. Farah said he did not ask questions about the video.
He said the Toronto Star offered to pay $40,000 for the Ford video, while Gawker offered $15,000, but no deal was done.
Mr. Farah was, according to the Toronto Star, acting on behalf of Mohamed Siad, who had the video. Mr. Siad, who was also arrested in the mid-June police operation known as Project Traveller, remains in jail.
Charges against him include participating in a criminal organization, trafficking cocaine and firearms, and conspiring to commit an indictable offence.
Mr. Siad, 27, had been facing charges in Peel Region as well. Police allege he pushed an officer in a bid to flee after his vehicle was pulled over on April 24. He was charged with assaulting a peace officer and possessing drugs. The Crown withdrew those charges late last month.
Mr. Farah told the fifth estate he has never personally seen the mayor do drugs, but noted Mr. Ford was regularly spotted in the Dixon neighbourhood and at a nearby bungalow that police described as a drug house in documents.
Mr. Ford’s friend Alessandro Lisi, who also served as his occasional driver, was charged with extortion last week in connection with the Ford video. The mayor has not been charged with a crime. He admitted this week smoking crack cocaine after months of denying he used drugs.