Kabil Abdulkhadir wanted bygones to be bygones when he told Mohamud Dirie the Somali phrase, meaning “may your brother rest in peace,” at a downtown Toronto nightclub in August 2015.
Dirie’s older brother, Mohamed Dirie, known as “Beetlejuice,” had been shot dead in a short-term rental near Liberty Village less than two months earlier.
But the younger Dirie, known as “Monopoly,” wasn’t interested in making peace with Abdulkhadir.
Instead, he shrugged his shoulder dismissively.
Within hours, Abdulkhadir, 27, was lying dead outside the Marriott Hotel on Bay St., killed by five bullets fired from Dirie’s pistol.
Abdulkhadir had lived in fear of the brothers over the course of a six-year beef.
That ended with his death.
Last summer, a jury convicted Mohamud Dirie of first-degree murder in Abdulkhadir’s death.
This past week, a different jury in the same Toronto courthouse acquitted another man in the murders of Mohamed Dirie and Abdiweli Abdullahi, who was shot to death while he slept.
A younger Dirie brother, Ahmed, is one of four co-accused facing multiple charges for allegedly shooting an innocent man more than 30 times last summer in a housing complex parking lot near Jane St. and Finch Ave.
The brothers first came to public attention in 2013, when Ahmed and Mohamed Dirie were rounded up as part of Project Traveller, the Toronto police investigation into the Dixon City Bloods. That wiretap project infamously exposed the street gang’s ties to former mayor Rob Ford, including members’ attempts to peddle a video of him smoking crack cocaine.
At the time, northwest Toronto was plagued by violence, prompting Toronto police to form a Somali Liaison Unit in an effort to rebuild trust with the community. (It has since disbanded)
Amid the violence, Abdulkhadir’s fear only intensified after elders in the Somali community said he had killed Mohamed Dirie, according to evidence summarized in a pre-trial ruling by Superior Court Justice Michael Dambrot.
Despite neighbourhood gossip, there has been no suggestion Abdulkhadir had any role in that murder, nor that Mohamud Dirie killed him as revenge, say those familiar with both investigations.
“From my perspective, Kabil was not involved at all,” Toronto police acting Insp. Joyce Schertzer, who worked on both cases as a homicide detective, told the Star.
There was no relationship between the killings, she said, except the “chance meeting at the nightclub when (Abdulkhadir) went up to offer his condolences to Monopoly and he said ‘let’s squash the beef now, you lost a brother.’”
Abdulkhadir had hung out and played basketball with the Diries growing up in the Dixon Rd. and Islington Ave. area.
Their relationship changed drastically after an incident in 2009, according to statements made by Abdulkhadir’s family members, some of which were ruled inadmissible by the judge at last year’s trial.
The relatives, either in police statements or in court, said that the relationship soured after the two older Dirie brothers broke into Abdulkhadir’s car and stole $500. They beat him and Abdulkhadir was forced into hiding with a relative, according to summaries included in the judge’s pretrial rulings in the murder case.
“Mr. Abdulkhadir believed that his life was in danger,” the summaries said. “He was unable to visit (the relative) or his siblings due to being threatened or being under threat by Mr. Dirie and his friends,” the judge wrote.
In January 2010, the older Dirie brothers again assaulted Abdulkhadir, this time in jail, calling him a snitch and blaming him for their incarceration.
Abdulkhadir had been in custody after being caught with a firearm. His mother said he told her he had armed himself because he feared the Diries.
Several of Dambrot’s rulings include statements and details Abdulkhadir’s family members provided to police about being intimidated and beaten by the brothers. Some relatives said they were approached to deliver threatening messages to Abdulkhadir.
The threats had Abdulkhadir “running for his life,” one of the rulings said.
On more than one occasion, Abdulkhadir told relatives that if he were to die, “I would be killed by Monopoly.”
Abdulkhadir was sent out of the country and continued to keep a low profile after he returned in 2014 — but his prediction came true early on Aug. 9, 2015, when Mohamud Dirie followed him from the nightclub and ambushed him outside the Bay St. hotel, just behind the Eaton Centre.
Prosecutors Joanne Capozzi and Tim DiMuzio told the jury the evidence, including extensive video surveillance footage, demonstrated the killing was a planned and deliberate execution.
Dirie, 28, is appealing his conviction and life sentence for first-degree murder.
A jury last week acquitted Kamal Hassan, 26, in the murders of Mohamed Dirie and Abdullahi. Hassan blamed another man, Kwasi Skene-Peters, who was killed by police trying to arrest him in 2015.
Ahmed Dirie, known as “Santana,” returns to court for his alleged role in the Jane and Finch shooting next week.
Betsy Powell is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and courts. Follow her on Twitter: @powellbetsy