A Spate of Gangland Killings in Sydney Has Rattled Police Officials

In just two years, 11 suspected underworld murders have taken place in Sydney’s south-west. 
Police inspect the burnt-out remains of a vehicle used during a shooting at Bankstown Central Shopping Centre on April 29, 2016 in Sydney, Australia.
Police inspect the burnt-out remains of a vehicle used during a shooting at Bankstown Central Shopping Centre on April 29, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. Getty VIA 
Brook Mitchell
 / Stringer

The most recent victim of a “war” between the Hamzy and Alameddine families – two of Sydney’s most prominent underworld groups – was assassinated last week in a “hail of bullets”. 

Over the last two years, the feud has claimed 11 lives. Now, police are concerned there will be more.

Mahmoud “Brownie” Ahmad was shot last Wednesday evening on a residential street in Sydney’s Greenacre as he was leaving the house of an acquaintance. The 39 year-old was well-known to police and being watched by New South Wales police’s Raptor Squad, a strike force set up in early 2021 to handle targeting and disruption of advanced criminal networks. Members of the squad in the area at the time of the attack performed CPR on Ahmad, but he could not be revived and died at the scene.

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The state’s eleventh suspected gangland killing in two years, Brownie Ahmad was the brother of Walid “Wally” Ahmad, a high-profile underworld boss known to his associates as “Mr Big”. The Ahmads were once a powerful underworld family, allegedly involved in a string of drug-running schemes, extortion and drive-by shootings, and the subject of at least 55 intelligence reports over the decade they had been known to police. 

Wally was executed in broad daylight by a hooded shooter in 2016, as he sipped a post-workout coffee outside the Havana Cafe in Bankstown Central. While the man accused of shooting him was never pinned, a known hitman who was a suspect in the case was assassinated in his home shortly after.

Released on parole six months before his death, police had notified Ahmad of a $1 million bounty on his head from rivals, telling him he was a “marked man.”

Homicide Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty told reporters on Thursday there was a “long list” of people who would have wanted to do “a lot of harm” to Ahmad.

“This was an incredibly brazen, callous murder,” Doherty said.

“It’s an absolute miracle that no one else got killed or injured because there was a large hail of bullets that struck Brownie Ahmad.”

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It was a meticulously planned attack, Detective Superintendent Doherty said, with the assailants “lying in wait” for Ahmad to exit the two-storey house. The gunman fled the scene, but a burnt-out car was found nearby. It is not yet known if the incidents are linked.

In just two years, 11 suspected gangland killings have taken place in Sydney’s south-west. 

The number of deaths was revealed in a New South Wales budget estimates hearing on Wednesday by NSW police’s investigations and counter-terrorism deputy commissioner, David Hudson, who said it was “unacceptable”.

“I share concern in relation to the activity that’s going on – all police officers do,” Hudson said in the hearing. “It’s unacceptable and we understand that.”

The bloody feud between the once-friendly Hamzy and Alameddine families is understood to have been initiated in 2020.

But it “wasn’t as simple” as simply arresting the families, Hudson said in the hearing.

“There are over 300 individuals involved. Many of the particularly violent actions of these groups are outsourced to other people.”

Earlier this year, NSW police said they were “on top” of the feud, after senior Hamzy figures Mejid Hamzy, Bilal Hamze and Ghassan Amoun were murdered. In a press conference, NSW police said they had “27 police task forces” working to solve Sydney’s spate of underworld murders and crimes.

Police Minister Paul Toole said the incident only strengthened the NSW government's resolve for curbing criminal groups.

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