A new police taskforce has been established to coordinate investigations into a spate of fatal shootings in Sydney involving rival organised crime gangs.
Thirteen people have been killed in gang violence in Sydney’s west and southwest over the past 18 months.
The latest shooting happened on Saturday when the nephew of slain gangland figure Mahmoud ‘Brownie’ Ahmad was shot dead at his western Sydney home – the third fatal shooting in recent weeks.
Rami Iskander, 23, was shot in the torso in front of his pregnant wife and two-year-old child at his home on Knox Street at Belmore just before 4am on Saturday.
Iskander was killed just days after his uncle Ahmad was sprayed with bullets outside a Greenacre home on April 27 after a $1million bounty was placed on his head.
Detectives are chasing down three theories trying to explain why Iskander was killed, including whether or not his enemies were trying to prevent him from avenging his father’s death.
A new taskforce has been set up to investigate the fatal shooting of the nephew of slain gangster Mahmoud Ahmad as police chase three theories to why he was killed
The first theory is that Iskander could have been shot pre-emptively to stop him carrying out a revenge plot after his uncle Ahmad was gunned down on April 27
Police found a burned out car parked in a nearby suburb following the shooting on Saturday morning
Taskforce Erebus will examine the circumstances and links between recent fatal shootings as well as dozens of acts of violence and the supply of prohibited drugs, illicit firearms, vehicle theft and various other criminal activities.
The taskforce brings together Australian Federal Police, detectives in southwest Sydney, the NSW Crime Commission and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
Assistant commissioner Michael Fitzgerald said he would be bringing down the full brunt of the police force to tackle the ongoing war between Sydney gangs.
‘These public acts of violence are dangerous and while they are targeted – regardless of who the victim is – it will not be tolerated. It only takes one stray bullet to injure or kill an innocent person,’ he told Daily Telegraph.
‘Police will not back down; we will continue to target anyone who shows a blatant disregard for community safety.’
The second theory being investigated by the taskforce is that Iskander was targeted in retaliation for the shooting of Comanchero boss Tarek, 41, and his brother Omar Zahed, 39, last Tuesday.
The pair were sprayed with bullets as they were leaving a BodyFit gym on Parramatta Road in Auburn, western Sydney.
Iskander is understood to have told friends that he was being wrongly blamed for the hit and that he had nothing to do with it.
The Ahmad family have also spoken through their lawyer Hisham Karnib to deny their family were involved in the shooting.
The third theory being investigated is that Iskander disrespected a person’s wife or girlfriend and was shot in retaliation.
Since October, police investigating criminal gangs have arrested 260 people and laid more than 840 charges.
The death of Iskander brings the number of gangland style executions to rock the city in the past 18 months up to 13
State Crime Command Director detective chief superintendent Darren Bennett said police were dealing with a ‘spate of tit-for-tat shootings around organised criminals around south-west Sydney’
SCC Director of Crime Operations, Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett, says the focus continues to be on the links between organised criminal networks and those who associate with – and between – the groups.
‘We know the victims in these crimes associated in similar circles and this taskforce allows for centralised examination of how those connections relate to the shootings, and possible motivations,’ he said.
‘It also allows for expert co-ordination of resources and high-pressure targeting of the criminality at the centre of the shootings.’
Shadow Police Minister Walt Secord blamed the NSW government for allowing the gang war to spiral out of control.
‘We have a situation in Western Sydney where gangland violence is running rampant,’ Mr Secord told ABC.
Police officers and forensic specialists are seen at the scene on the morning of the attack
‘Police have lost control of the streets. It’s time the Premier acted. If this was happening in Sydney’s east or the north shore arrests would have been made a long time ago.’
State Crime Command Director detective chief superintendent Darren Bennett said police were dealing with a ‘spate of tit-for-tat shootings around organised criminals around southwest Sydney’.
‘We’ve clearly got a war-of-sorts in south-western Sydney around drug supply and organised crime,’ he said on Saturday.
Superintendent Bennett said Iskander was on a list of people under police surveillance.
‘We’ve got a list of people we focus on. This person who is now deceased, was part of that cabal,’ he said.
‘He’s not a person that we have warned about being a target as we have with others. But he is certainly known to us as being involved in that milieu.’
Police closed down Knox Street and set up a crime scene.
Moments following the shooting emergency services were called to help a pregnant woman who went into labour and an elderly man who suffered a fall
Ahmad was fatally shot outside a Greenacre property after a $1million bounty was placed on his head
Moments following the shooting emergency services were called to help a pregnant woman who went into labour and an elderly man who suffered a fall.
One neighbour said they were woken up by the sound of gunshots.
‘My wife said did you hear that? I think that was gunshots,’ he told Daily Telegraph.
Another neighbour said they heard ’10 gunshots’ before they saw a car speed away down the street.
A resident who is a nurse said they attempted to perform CPR on the 23-year-old man who had been shot.
Police found a burned out car parked in the nearby suburb of Croydon.
It is the second shooting in a week after Comanchero boss Tarek, 41, and his brother Omar Zahed, 39, were gunned down while leaving a BodyFit gym on Parramatta Road in Auburn, western Sydney, on Tuesday.
Tarek was shot up to 10 times and remains under police guard as he recovers in Westmead Hospital.
Takek Zahed (seated) and his brother Omar (standing) were gunned down outside a gym in Sydney’s west on Tuesday night
His brother Omar died at the scene and was laid to rest at Rookwood Cemetery on Friday.
Mourners, some wearing balaclavas, arrived at the gravesite and embraced Muslim friends and family of the slain man.
Among them was underworld identity, Ahmed Elomar, the brother of ISIS terrorist Mohamed Elomar.
Elomar told Daily Mail Australia that Omar’s fatal shooting was evidence of the ‘shocking state of affairs for young Muslim men in Sydney’.
‘This generation is all over the place,’ he said.
‘What happened, who knows?’.
Mr Elomar said he had been a good friend of Omar who he had known in and out of jail.
A former champion boxer, Elomar served three years in prison for assaulting a policeman at the infamous 2021 pro-Islamic State riots in Hyde Park.
The body of slain bikie associate Omar Zahed is carried from the back of a hearse to his grave at Rookwood Cemetery
A mourner, who did not want to be identified, told Daily Mail Australia that Tarek was ‘out of a coma, but still not talking’.
Police are investigating whether the brazen gangland hit may have been an inside job sparked by an internal power struggle within the Comanchero.
Police had warned the brothers as recently as Thursday last week that their lives were at risk, however their advice went unheeded.
Homicide Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said police are investigating possible motives for the assassination attempt, refusing to rule out the possibility of an inside job.
‘We can’t discount an internal conflict,’ he told reporters.
‘There is opportunities for people to take their place and there’s a real power struggle within organised crime organisations.’
NSW Police established a new strike force to investigate the shootings.
Shooting spree erupts in Sydney
The 23-year-old man who was shot in Belmore, Sydney’s south-west, was identified as Rami Iskander – the nephew of underworld figure Mahmoud ‘Brownie’ Ahmad.
It marks the 13th gangland-style execution to rock Sydney in the last 18 months.
Comanchero bikie Fares Abounader was the first victim in the long spate of shootings after he was killed in a drive-by attack in Panania, south-west Sydney, on August 29, 2020.
Mejid Hamzy was shot dead in Condell Park on October 19, 2020 and then Mustafa Naaman was killed in a suspected mistaken identity attack on Ibrahem Hamze on January 31, 2021.
Mejed Derbas, Shady Kanj, Ghassan Amoun and Mahmoud ‘Brownie’ Ahmad are among the people who have also been shot.
Comanchero bikies with links to the Alameddine clan, Tarek Zahed and his brother Omar were the latest to be shot after they were gunned down while leaving a gym in Auburn on May 10, 2022.