Mo’s Brother: My Jail Shame
Mo Farrah's brother tells of criminal past
This story revealed how Omar Farrah had been locked-up, homeless and smoked cannabis.
The exclusive story appeared on the front of the Sunday Mirror newspaper after a tip-off led to a full interview with the brother of the double gold-winning Olympian runner.
Read the full story below:
“I’ve been locked up, homeless and smoke cannabis”: Mo Farah’s secret brother on Olympic hero’s love and support
Olympic hero Mo Farah has a secret brother who told yesterday how he spent time in jail after he was arrested during the riots.
In a stark contrast to the life of double gold medallist Mo, younger brother Omar, 20, has been behind bars and had to live in a hostel when he was homeless and had no money.
In an exclusive interview he said Mo – recently awarded a CBE – stood by him when he was in a young offenders unit.
Omar, who admits he regularly smokes cannabis, said his famous brother is now helping him to rebuild his life
And he said Mo’s gold success at London 2012 – where he won the 5,000m and 10,000m titles for Great Britain – has inspired him to stay out of trouble with the police.
Omar said: “I lead a completely different life to Mo but the experience of being in the young offenders unit made me never want to go back. I don’t ever want to be put in that position again.
“Mo’s success has inspired me to do something with my life. I don’t want to doss around and get in trouble with the police.”
While Mo, 29, was training for the feats that captured the nation’s heart and were watched by millions worldwide, Omar was going off the rails, mixing with people he now feels were a bad influence.
He was caught up in the riots when thousands of yobs looted shops, set fire to buildings and attacked police and members of the public across England.
Omar was arrested and charged with using or threatening violence to others during the disturbances in August 2011 near his family home in Brentford, West London.
He appeared before Westminster Magistrates Court and was remanded in custody at Feltham Young Offender Institution.
Omar revealed that Mo gave him his full support while he was locked up. But they decided between them that his relationship to the famous athlete had to remain secret over fears for his safety in the tough unit.
Omar says his arrest was his lowest moment. “I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he explained. “I got caught up in Brentford and the police grabbed us because we were running. They thought we were a mob running riot. They thought because we were running we must have done something wrong. I just ran because everyone else started running.
“It was scary inside Feltham. I made sure I kept my identity quiet. No one knew that I was Mo’s brother.
“I was worried about what would happen if they knew who my brother was. I told him I was innocent and he said he’d stick by me.
“But he gave me a little talk when I got put in remand and he said, ‘If you actually did do it, just ride your time, get out, and just change your life.’ I made sure I kept my head down and listened to my brother’s advice.”
Omar was cleared of the charges after four weeks inside . But when he was released from Feltham he found himself homeless and was forced to live in a hostel in Shepherds Bush in West London where he had to share a room with up to 30 people down on their luck.
He said: “I was in the hostel for about four- and-a-half months. I had to share a kitchen. It wasn’t very nice but Mo tried to help me out as best he could. It could be scary, but that’s the way it was.”
In contrast to clean-living Mo, Omar admitted he has been a regular user of cannabis but strongly denies being a drug dealer.
He said: “I smoked cannabis and did when I was younger but never got in trouble for it. I was only smoking, not dealing. Never been a dealer. I’ve never been involved in any serious trouble though, just the riots.
“When we’ve smoked next to him in the past, Mo would be like, ‘Get that away from me’ – he hated it. He was never into drugs. All he wanted to do is run.” Omar was born in 1992, a year after dad Mukhtar fled Africa for a new life in Britain with Somalia-born Mo, who was eight and could not speak a word of English.
Mukhtar was forced to leave his wife and three of their six children behind in the impoverished African state of Djibouti which borders Somalia.
Within a few months of settling into West London, Mukhtar, an IT consultant, met Omar’s mum Fosiya Mohamed.
Mo and Omar’s lives went in different directions as the older brother excelled in sport. But he always remained close to his family in the UK and Somalia, including his twin Hassan and full brother, also called Omar.
Half-brother Omar stayed in touch with Mo and last summer he was at the Olympic Stadium for Mo’s 10,000-metre triumph.
Omar said: “I was with a load of my friends and family. The atmosphere was amazing. The whole place erupted and it was cool to hear everyone go mad for Mo, and for everyone to do the Mobot. I’ve held his medals… they’re pretty heavy.
“When he collects his CBE he’ll be really excited. I know he likes the royal family and is a big fan of the Queen. He said he’s going to make a joke about her jumping out the helicopter when he sees her. I think he’s going to try and get her to do the Mobot too. That would make a great picture.”
Mo moved to Oregon in the US two years ago to be closer to both the Nike training centre and his coach and he lives in a large four-bedroom house with his wife Tania, their newborn twin girls Aisha and Amani and seven-year-old step-daughter Rihanna.
Omar lives in a tiny two-bedroom flat in West London. Mo regularly speaks to his young brother, making sure he stays out of trouble.
Omar told how Mo stepped in when police turned up to question him about an incident weeks after the Olympics. He said: “There was a commotion on my road and he was in my house. I’d just gone to the shop and when I came back the police stopped me in front of my house. They said, ‘You fit the description of someone.’ Mo came out and they were like, ‘Sorry, sorry, sorry.’ I was going to get arrested.
“They were gobsmacked. They made me take a picture of them with Mo before they left.”
Omar added: “I see him every now and again but he is busy with his running. He always wants to know how I am and is keen to know I’m not in any trouble. I last saw him about a month and a half ago.
“I’m going to Mo’s place at the end of this month. We’ve always been close. When we’re together he always wants me to go training with him. He’s like, ‘It’ll be good for you.’ Last time we spoke he said I should go to America to be his water boy and help him out.”
Omar said Mo is devoted to his large extended family and has remained grounded despite his success and fame.
He said: “I kind of always knew he’d be a success. As a brother he’s just really normal. He’s a very humble person. As a kid we used to go running all the time.
“When he’s not training he just likes to chill out with his family. He really likes watching snooker, cartoons and kids’ shows. He loves Emmerdale.
“Buying him something for Christmas was one of the hardest things because he got everything he’s ever wanted at the Olympics.
“But I gave him some shoes he used to run in ages ago. He thought that he had lost them so I cleaned them up and gave them back to him. He loved it.”
Omar said that Mo’s incredible achievements have inspired him to turn his own life around and he recently found a job as a trainee graphic designer.
He added: “I’m moving forward with my life and I have Mo to thank. My dad said, ‘Why can’t you be more like Mo?’ and that’s what I aim to do now. His success has inspired me to do something with my life.”
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