Jahanam’s Angels (note the turban)
In whatever era or place, here are the Sunnis and Shias at it once again — this time in the guise of “bikers” warring in Sydney, Australia.
“Religious divide drives bikie war,” by Dylan Welch for SMH.com, February 16:
AN ANCIENT religious enmity is at the centre of a new conflict in the Sydney bikie scene, with a new gang comprised mainly of Sunni Muslims warring with a group of bikies with a Shiite Muslim background.
While detectives continue to investigate the February 4 bombing of a Hells Angels clubhouse in Crystal Street, Petersham, police and other sources are indicating that the city chapter of the Comanchero is involved in an escalating feud with a new club, Notorious.
The president of Notorious is a Lebanese-Australian with a long-standing association with a bikie from a colourful Sydney Sunni Lebanese family. The two are among Sydney’s original “Nike” bikies – sporting white sneakers, fashionable T-shirts and clean-shaven instead of the traditional boots, dirty vests and bushy beards – and both are from Sunni families from Sydney’s west.
Notorious is considered by gang squad detectives to be the prime suspect in the Crystal Street bombing. One of its mottos is “Only the dead see the end of war” and its “colours”, or coat of arms, is a turbaned skeleton holding twin pistols with “Original Gangster” beneath it. Today is the first time the club’s colours have been revealed publicly.
On the other side of the conflict is the president of the Comanchero City Crew, a Beirut-born Shiite who grew up in the St George area. Comanchero has been one of the motorcycle gangs that have embraced the new breed of “Nike” bikie, and have been recruiting from the Lebanese and Islander communities for several years.
Traditionally, Lebanese Muslim migrants to Sydney have been geographically and religiously divided. The Sunni majority live in Sydney’s west and south-west, mainly around Auburn and Bankstown, while the Shiite minority live in the St George area. “The two groups have no love lost between them,” a senior police source told the Herald.
They have been fighting since the Sunni bikie, one of Sydney’s most well-known gangsters, became president of the Nomads Parramatta chapter in the late 1990s.
In 2006, he was jailed over a Newcastle shooting. The following year, the Parramatta chapter’s Granville headquarters was bombed, allegedly by the Comanchero, and the chapter subsequently disbanded.
A few of its members formed Notorious, probably at the request of the Sunni bikie.
“[The Sunni bikie] left the Nomads while he was on remand,” said an investigator who has watched the two groups for years. “He was telling people he was planning to start up his own club. Around about the same time, Notorious appeared.”
Unlike the Sunni bikie and the Notorious president, the Comanchero City Crew president was born in Beirut and grew up in Sydney’s southern suburbs. He appeared on television in 2005 following the Cronulla riot and Maroubra reprisal violence, when he met members of the Bra Boys to calm tensions.
When the Herald asked the president of the Hells Angels city chapter about the bombing, he was succinct: “I’ve got nothing to say, thank you.”
But bikie sources said the Angels believe Notorious may be responsible for the attack, which closed down Crystal Street for a day and damaged seven neighbouring businesses.
Neither police nor the Hells Angels have established why Notorious may have attacked the club, though the senior police source offered a simple answer: “They’re just bloody crazy.”
In the latest violence, a Comanchero member was shot in the leg when he was confronted by five Hells Angels at a park in Silverwater on February 7.