The man who originally tried to broker the sale of the Rob Ford crack tape finally revealed his identity Friday evening in a pair of explosive interviews that offered more details in the never-ending, increasingly ludicrous Canadian scandal.
Mohamed Farah, a 33-year-old community organizer in the Toronto neighbourhood where police arrested multiple gang members and seized guns, drugs, money and hard drives that led to the crack tape's retrieval, spoke publicly for the first time about his experience trying to sell the crack video to Gawker and the Toronto Star in interviews with City News and the CBC.
Farah said he was first approached by a young man looking for help selling a video showing the mayor smoke crack, make homophobic and racist remarks in January. The young guy, identified in the press as alleged gang member Mohammed Siad, wanted to sell the video showing the mayor smoking crack so he could leave Toronto and start a new life with his girlfriend. "Originally he thought he was gonna get a million dollars," Farah told City News. "I told him, 'Look, you won’t even get $10,000 for the video.' But I said, ‘Look, I’ll try my best.'"
Farah was certainly wrong about one thing. Offers came in. The Star bid $40,000 for the video. Gawker initially offered $15,000, and eventually raised $200,000 through a crowd-funded "Crackstarter" campaign. This bidding war eventually fell through, but led to the months long scandal that finally erupted this week when Ford admitted he smoked crack cocaine. The Star and Gawker weren't the only people who came forward with cash, though. "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,'" Farah told CBC's The Fifth Estate.
But Farah and Siad were forced to retreat underground because the heat surrounding the video became too much before any transaction could take place. "There was a lot of threats related to the (video) and I didn’t know who to trust," Farah told City News. Speaking with the CBC, Farah said threats came in saying "we'll have you guys executed," from people alleging they were ex-military, or police officers, who he believes were working "on behalf of the mayor's" office. That's why he and Siad disappeared after the scandal broke in the press. The Star previously revealed the tape sellers received calls from people alleging to be former Navy officers looking for the tape. Sandro Lisi, the mayor's former driver and an alleged drug dealer, was charged with extortion for allegedly using "threats or violence or menaces" to retrieve the crack tape, though it's unconfirmed if he made the military or execution threats.
In other news, lawyers for an alleged Toronto gang member caught in the infamous picture with his arms around Ford in front of the crack house where the video was filmed are worried their client's reputation is being tarnished for his association with the mayor.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.