Herald on Sunday
Sydney police fear gang war
Slaying of notorious crime figure in CBD could escalate feud
The brutal slaying of notorious crime figure Bilal Hamze in the heart of Sydney’s CBD on Friday night is a brazen escalation of violence even by the grisly standards of the city’s underworld.
Up to five or six gunshots rang out in one of the busiest areas of Australia before Hamze was found drenched in blood in an alleyway off Bridge St about 10.25pm.
He reportedly knew there was a hit on his head and had decided to take up residence in the bustling city centre to ward hitmen off his trail.
He was pronounced dead at St Vincent’s Hospital, while the killer or killers remain on the run.
Witnesses described shock at the violent scene in the CBD, the latest in a string of assassinations and murder attempts between two rival crime families — the Alameddine and Hamzy families — in recent years.
Police had feared an escalation after Mejid Hamzy, the younger brother of jailed crime boss Bassam Hamzy, was shot dead outside his Condell Park home on October 19.
Bassam — who is Bilal’s cousin — is a central figure in the feud.
He started the Brothers 4 Life gang in jail after he converted to radical Islam. The group has several chapters across Sydney’s southwest suburbs.
Mejid was believed to be behind at least one underworld hit: the shooting of Hamad Assaad, also known as “The Executioner”.
Assaad was the suspected triggerman in a 2013 murder attempt on the Hamzy family’s matriarch Maha, before he was killed in 2016.
On the same morning Mejid was shot dead last year, Maha’s home was sprayed with bullets again.
In November, a cocaine shipment worth A$100 million ($107.9m) went missing, leading to a kidnapping.
And in January an innocent man, Mustafa Naaman, was shot dead in a Hurstville carpark. A member of the Hamzy clan is believed to have been the real target.
Violence flared again in February when Maha Hamze’s home was again shot at, with a stray bullet going through a window of nearby Auburn Hospital, injuring a nurse’s leg.
However, an all-out war between the two families had been avoided.
Police sources have told the Daily Telegraph the killing of Bilal Hamze could change this. They say they are preparing for reprisal shootings and a “full-scale gang war”.
NSW Police said on Friday that Hamze, 34, was reportedly shot by an unknown person in a black car.
“A crime scene was established and forensically examined by specialist police,” police said in a statement.
“A short time later, police located a burnt-out vehicle at Fleming St, Northwood, and a second crime scene was established.”
In April, officers conducted 47 raids and seized A$600,000 worth of drugs, cars, weapons, cash, sports cars and jewellery. All 11 arrests were believed to be connected to the warring crime families.