The execution death of Bilal Hamze has sparked fears of a gangland war in Sydney's western suburbs, where Middle Eastern crime gangs have long run rampant.
Hamze, 34, was gunned down in the CBD on Thursday night after dining at ritzy sushi restaurant Kid Kyoto.
He was shot in the stomach and shoulder by an unknown person who police say was lying in wait for Hamze.
Hamze is the cousin of Bassam Hamzy, 41, who is serving more than 40 years for a spree of killings and gang-related crimes, and Mejid Hamzy who was shot dead in his Condell Park driveway in October 2020.
At the time of Mejid's killing, police said he may have been responsible for several assassinations including the 2016 death of Hamad 'The Executioner' Assaad, and that his murder was definitely part of a gang-related attack.
In the immediate aftermath of Mejid's death, police banned members of his crew, the Alameddine crew and others from certain parts of Sydney their rivals were known to haunt in an attempt to avoid an all-out gang war.
As NSW Police hunt Hamze's killer, Daily Mail Australia has taken a look at these two Middle Eastern crime crews, and others, who are wreaking havoc across the city.
Bilal Hamze, 34, was gunned down in the CBD on Thursday night after dining at ritzy sushi restaurant Kid Kyoto
The shooting murder of Mejid Hamzy (left), older brother of notorious criminal Bassam (right), has sparked fears of an all-out war between criminal clans fighting for control of Sydney's west
(L to R) Criminals Rachad Alameddine and his brother Jihad pose for a photo with their cousins Hamdi and Rafat. They are known for having control over the Merrylands area in west Sydney
Police believe Mejid Hamzy was responsible for the shooting death of Hamad Assaad, a close associate of Osman Haouchar (left) who is pictured with his wannabe standover man cousin Mohamad 'Butch' Haouchar (right)
In total 22 people were banned from certain areas in Sydney's west and east.
They include some members of the Hamzy crew being banned from entering Mount Druitt, Rooty HIll, Blacktown and Merrylands where the Alameddine gang frequents.
Similarly, the Alameddine associates are banned from going between Picnic Point in Blaxland, and Villawood and Strathfield.
Tensions in the city's south-west and western suburbs are at a long-time high.
In a separate recent shooting prominent gangster Samer Marcus was left fighting for life in hospital after being gunned down outside his parents' home.
Retired NSW detective turned Western Sydney University lecturer Michael Kennedy has seen generations of organised crime groups in Sydney.
He told Daily Mail Australia that despite the hard tactics of police, antagonising these groups is in his opinion not the best way to go about it.
'If you use the word "mafia" it gives the wrong idea, but it's essentially the same thing in that you have a close knit system,' Professor Kennedy said.
'You will often see that organised crime groups keep things in the family, because it brings a level of trust and unity, but also they don't want to share what they have.
'What we've seen since back in the day with these families is that they move out for a new life in Australia, and will do anything to avoid going back to where they're from.
'There's no great mystery that families who come here with nothing will do the hard yards and whatever it takes to get money, and many individuals end up in crime.'
Professor Kennedy, who spent years investigating organised crime, is critical of the recent heavy-handed response taken by NSW Police to large criminal enterprises.
Over recent years Strike Force Raptor against bikies and the middle-eastern crime squad has seen criminals riled up and retaliate.
'It shouldn't be any surprise that organised crime crews remain staunch and refuse to stand in the witness box and give each other up,' Professor Kennedy said.
'But what you've got to do is get these communities to trust you.
'Organised crime is not going anywhere, you can't regulate it, and so you need them to self-regulate.
'You don't give them a green light by any means, but you have an open dialogue so that you can go to them and say "this is a problem" and they will act.'
Pools of blood and ripped clothing lie on the ground outside the house of a friend where Mejid Hamzy stumbled to after being shot in the front yard of his own home on Monday, October 19
Blood stained shirts and other ripped clothing was taken away in evidence bags by NSW Police
A burnt out car, believed to have been the one used by the two gunmen, was found on a nearby suburban street
Khaled and Lola Hamzy moved their family to Australia in the 1970s as civil war erupted in Lebanon.
The family name first came onto the radar of police in the mid-1990s, when Khaled was jailed for his role in a drug ring.
In 1999, his son Bassam shot dead a teenager during a night out in Sydney and was himself jailed for 21 years.
But while life behind bars is intended to be a deterrent for reoffending, it was where Hamzy thrived.
He set up the gang Brothers 4 Life, and with a bevvy of mobile phones hidden in his cell, ran a sophisticated drug and crime ring.
Bassam Hamzy is one of NSW's most notorious prisoners having been convicted of killing, drug and gang offences. He will call Goulburn Supermax, Australia's most secure prison home until at least 2042
Bassam's father Khaled (left) moved his family to Australia in the 1970s and was himself jailed in the mid-1990s on drugs charges. Bassam's cousin Mohammed 'Little Crazy' Hamzy (right) is currently serving time in jail for shooting two men in 2012. He was stabbed in prison last week
Bassam will not be eligible for parole until at least 2042.
A source close to Bassam told Daily Mail Australia he was 'shattered' at news of his brother's death, which came just months after the passing of his father.
His cousin Mahmoud, a fellow Brothers 4 Life member, was also shot dead in 2013 as he was caught in the middle of an attempt on another cousin, Mohammed 'Little Crazy' Hamzy.
Mohammed, again a Brothers 4 Life devotee, was stabbed in prison in late-October where he is serving time for shooting two men in 2013.
Prior to his assassination, Mejid Hamzy was more than happy to fly under the radar as he went about his business in the underworld.
He did a stint in jail in the late-2000s, but was last year cleared on drug trafficking charges.
A former associate of Mejid's said his death really could spark an underworld war.
'Whoever pulled this stunt is a madman for sure. He (Mejid) was one of the biggest names in Sydney,' they said.
'Bassam was big but Mejid is a different breed.
'This guy was well connected and loved by heaps of heavies. His crew won't take this lightly.'
Mahmoud Hamzy (pictured), a fellow Brothers 4 Life member, was also shot dead in 2013 in an attempt on another cousin, Mohammed 'Little Crazy' Hamzy
A former member of his brother Bassam's gang Brothers 4 Life, Mejid was connected to several underworld killings.
NSW Police had reportedly believed he was involved in the shooting death of Hamad Assaad, who was gunned down in his driveway in 2016.
The Hamzys believed Assaad had been paid by another notorious group to carry out a drive-by shooting on the family's matriarch Maha, that left her wheelchair bound.
They believed that person was a member of the Haouchar crime gang.
In the aftermath of Hamad Assaad's death, a one-eyed man carried his coffin down the steps of Lakemba Mosque. His name was Osman Haouchar.
Haouchar lost his eye in a drive-by shooting at his family's Merrylands home in 2008.
He long blamed Michael Ibrahim, the younger brother of famed Kings Cross identity John.
Osman was interrogated after returning from the Turkey and Syria border in 2015, as it was a designated no-go zone.
He claimed he was there doing humanitarian work and has never been charged with a criminal offence.
Osman's brother Bilal (pictured) was caught on recordings vowing to kill Michael and his older brother Sam in 2013, once he got out of prison. He has since fled to Lebanon but he remains a suspect in a number of murders in Australia, however the countries have no extradition treaty
Osman Haouchar (left) carries the coffin at the funeral for murdered gangster Hamad Assaad. The one-eyed pallbearer was detained in 2015 after returning from Syria, where he claimed he was doing 'humanitarian work'
Osman's brother Bilal fled Australia for Lebanon in 2018, but remains a key person of interest over a spate of murders - however Australia and Lebanon have no extradition treaty.
Bilal's disdain for the glitzy rivals was so severe that John has been warned on a number of occasions about threats on his life.
In 2013 he was caught on recordings from behind bars vowing to kill Michael and his older brother Sam once he got out of prison.
Bilal had been serving time on a murder charge which was later downgraded to him being an accessory.
'You could say he is definitely a person of interest in a host of crimes, including murder,' a NSW Police source told The Daily Telegraph.
Bilal's angst towards the Ibrahims was echoed by his cousin Mohammad last year when he tried to stand over nightclub boss John Ibrahim.
Mohammad, better known as 'Butch', arrived at John's clifftop home and attempted to provoke a confrontation over money.
Ibrahim came out and spoke with the heavily-tattooed Haouchar and calmed the situtation, but police eventually arrested and charged the would be intruder.
Daily Mail Australia is in no way suggesting that John Ibrahim is involved in an underworld war or is part of any crime group.
In addition to the mentioned Ibrahim members, the Haouchars have also had a long running feud with some of the Hamzys.
Mohammad, better known as 'Butch', arrived at John Ibrahim's clifftop home and attempted to provoke a confrontation over money
The angst between the two came to a head in 2013 during the botched shooting on Maha Hamzy, the aunt of Mejid and Bassam.
A contract gunman and an associate of Osman Houchar, Assaad was believed to have been the trigger man.
Talal Alameddine is the most infamous in his family, despite having numerous criminals among his relatives
As part of their hunt for Mejid's killer, NSW Police are also investigating a brawl between members of the Hamzy crew and associates of another major group, the Alammedines, in the days before he died.
The street side brawl came a day before a series of shootings at homes linked to both a Hamzy and Alameddine relative.
At 2am that Saturday, the home of Maha Hamze was shot at in a drive-by attack.
The very next day, bullets were fired into the home of another Alameddine.
That family member has since been revealed to be Rafat Alameddine.
Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting that Rafat Alameddine was responsible for, or in any way involved, in the shooting.
NSW Police assistant commissioner Peter Thurtell claimed the ongoing gang wars on the streets of western Sydney are drug related.
'They are organised criminal groups targeting each other,' Asst Comm Thurtell said.
'The rationale behind targeting each other is obviously drug related.
'We will be targeting associates and known offenders. They can expect us to be in their face. They know we will come knocking on their door.'
The recent brawl followed a similar fight last year behind bars between the two most infamous people with Hamzy and Alameddine as a surname.
Talal Alameddine, who delivered the gun used to kill NSW Police accountant Curtis Cheng in 2015, took on Bassam Hamzy in an exercise yard at Goulburn's Supermax Prison.
CCTV footage of the brutal showed the two going head-to-head before Alameddine got the upper hand, leaving Hamzy battered and bruised.
While Talal's involvement in the murder of Mr Cheng has seen him become the most infamous member of the clan, he is not the only one to have landed himself in strife.
In recent years 26-year-old Talal's brother Rafat, 28, and cousins Bilal, 21, Jihad, 31, Rachad (sometimes 'Richad'), 28, and Hamdi Alameddine 27, have all faced serious criminal matters in court.
Supporters including Rachad Alameddine (front) leave court after Talal Alameddine was given a 13-year sentence in 2018 for supplying the gun used to kill police accountant Curtis Cheng
Bilal Alameddine (left) could face more than five years in jail when he is sentenced on gun and drug running charges on December 11. Jihad Alameddine (right) has pleaded guilty to a charges including drug possession, drug driving and possessing equipment for administering drugs
While Talal will be off the streets for at least the next decade, his five relatives have continued to develop into a prominent crime entourage in western Sydney.
Six male members of the Alameddine crew are already in jail or before the courts, facing charges related to guns, drugs, violence and organised crime.
They and their crew have established a stronghold around Merrylands - an area criminals have fought for control for years.
A source close to the Alameddines said: 'For years there were multiple families in that area, but most of the other ones were too focused on each other in the end.'
Another source described the current situation in Sydney as being 'on a knife's edge'.