The brutal slaying of notorious crime figure Bilal Hamze in the heart of Sydney’s CBD last night is a brazen escalation of violence even by the grisly standards of the city’s underworld.
Up to five or six gun shots rang out in one of the busiest areas of the nation before Hamze was found drenched in blood in an alleyway off Bridge Street about 10.25pm.
He reportedly knew there was a hit on his head before he was shot down, and had decided to take-up residence in the bustling centre of the city as a way to ward hit men off his trail.
However, the plan didn’t work. He was later pronounced dead at St Vincent’s Hospital, while the killer or killers remain on the run.
Witnesses have described their shock at hearing and seeing such violent scenes playing out in the Sydney CBD, but it is just the latest in a series of assassinations and murder attempts that have transpired between two rival Middle Eastern crime families – the Hamzy family and the Alameddine clan – over the past few years.
The violence in the CBD last night was what police were fearing would happen 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 also Bilal’s cousin – is a central figure in the deadly family feud.
He started the Brothers 4 Life gang while in jail after he converted to radical Islam and the group has several chapters in suburbs across Sydney’s southwest.
In 1999, aged 19, Hamzy shot dead a teenager on a Sydney nightclub strip and was jailed for 21 years for murder.
Since 2013 he has been held at Goulburn Supermax, where he has been convicted of conspiring to supply drugs behind bars.
This year he was charged with perverting the course of justice in the investigation into the execution-style murder of 15-year-old Brayden Dillon in 2017.
But while the headlines have often been about Bassam, underworld sources have described his younger brother Mejid as a key figure, who was better connected in the criminal world.
Mejid, who was killed by gunmen at his home in October, was believed to be behind at least one underworld hit himself, including the shooting of Hamad Assaad, also known as ‘The Executioner’.
Assaad was the suspected trigger man in a botched 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.
The shocking violence that morning led police to fear further violence would erupt between the rival families.
Tensions had been boiling over between the two factions after a brawl, in the week before Mejid was shot, between members linked to Hamzy’s notorious Brothers 4 Life gang and an associate of the Alameddine crime family.
In November, the situation went from bad to worse after a cocaine shipment worth $100 million went missing, leading to a kidnapping.
And in January, tragedy struck when an innocent man Mustafa Naaman was shot dead in Hurstville in a carpark. A member of the Hamzy clan is believed to have been the real target.
Violence flared again in February when Maha Hamze’s Auburn home was again shot at, with a stray bullet going through a window of nearby Auburn Hospital and causing an injury to a nurse’s leg.
However, an all-out war between the two families had been avoided until now.
Police sources have told The Daily Telegraph the killing of Bilal Hamze in Sydney last night could change this.
They say they are preparing for reprisal shootings and a “full scale gang war”.
NSW Police said on Friday morning 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 Street, Northwood, and a second crime scene was established.
“Detectives from the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad have established Strike Force Englorie to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.
“Strike force detectives will be assisted by the Criminal Groups Squad, Raptor Squad and officers from across the Central Metropolitan Region.
“Inquiries are continuing.”
In April, Strike Force Raptor officers conducted 47 raids and seized $600,000 worth of drugs, cars, weapons, cash, sports cars and jewellery from stockpiles across Sydney.
All of the 11 arrests made were believed to be connected to the warring Hamzy and Alameddine crime families.
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