‘Trigger point’: Warning on bikie laws after Fawkner shooting

A senior policeman behind Queensland’s successful crackdown on organised motorcycle gangs has warned Victoria needs police additional powers to stop organised crime-linked offenders or risk becoming a haven for bikies.

Former Gold Coast superintendent Jim Keogh urged the Victorian Government to strengthen its laws against motorcycle gangs, saying a public assassination attempt on Melbourne’s streets on Saturday was a “trigger point” for legislative change.

A screenshot of Suleiman “Sam” Abdulrahim flipping the bird at his attackers from his hospital bed.

The move would bring Victoria into line with Queensland and NSW, which have both introduced tough anti-association laws to crack down on organised motorcycle crime gangs.

”When members of the public are drawn into the frame, that is the trigger point for legislative change,” Keogh said. “If that trigger point from Saturday … doesn’t spark legislative change, nothing will.”

Former Mongols bikie and professional boxer Suleiman ‘Sam’ Abdulrahim was targeted in a failed execution as he left a funeral at Fawkner cemetery on Saturday.

Abdulrahim, a 30-year-old known in boxing circles as ‘The Punisher’ drove himself to a nearby police station after being shot in the chest on Box Forest Road.

Ex-Mongols bikie Suleiman “Sam” Abdulrahim was shot in Melbourne’s northern suburbs on Saturday.Credit:Paul Jeffers

Those responsible then carjacked a woman and her young son, fleeing in their Ford Territory, which was later found torched in Epping.

Keogh’s said his taskforce was able to take down bikie leaders and combat outlaw motorcycle gang-related violence after being handed greater enforcement powers.

He said without a united front between all states and territories, Victoria would continue to see displaced gang members move south as previously seen when tough new Queensland laws saw members – current and former – relocate to NSW.

He said the consideration for where a member of an organised motorcycle gang would trade was simple: “Where it’s easiest, where they’re not going to be the subject of harsh legislation”.

“If you haven’t got a united front [across states] … that’s what will happen.”

Underworld sources have since said Abdulrahim was fortunate to have avoided being shot at a boxing event last month.

States and territories across Australia began introducing various anti-bikie laws during the mid-2010s in an attempt to restrict organised motorcycle gang members displaying patches and associating with each other in public.

In Victoria, anti-criminal association laws were introduced in 2016, but they did not count if criminals were family members or seeking legal advice or involved in religious, study or work interests. No one has been prosecuted under these laws.

The Victorian Attorney-General’s office did not answer questions on Monday about whether Victoria had become the preferred state for outlaw motorcycle and organised crime gangs, as neighbouring state’s moved to strengthen association restrictions.

When asked whether discussions were under way to revisit associated laws, a government spokeswoman said the state already had a range of tough laws in place to prevent and disrupt organised crime.

Images from a video posted to social media showing one of the masked offenders fleeing the crashed Mazda.

These, they said, included Firearm Prohibition Orders, which have enabled Victoria Police to target high-risk people since 2018 for possessing guns and associated warrantless search powers for anyone subject to an order.

The spokeswoman said the state was also working through recommendations from a staged review of Victoria’s Criminal Organisation Laws.

“Victoria has a range of tough laws in place to prevent and disrupt organised crime,” they said.

But a former senior police officer, who asked not to be named, said the government was warned in 2016 that its anti-association laws were unworkable.

Sam ‘The Punisher’ Abdulrahim in a photo from his Instagram page.Credit:Instagram

“What you saw play out over the weekend … that was an inevitable outcome. [The legislation] has assisted in creating in Victoria a safe haven for bikies.”

Acting Commander Peter Brigham, from the anti-gangs division, said Victoria Police had specialist units, primarily the Echo Taskforce, with significant experience dealing with criminal activity from organised crime groups, with key people arrested, charged and prosecuted in recent times.

He said investigators were confident of making an arrest for the shooting in due course.

“Understandably, incidents such as the Fawkner shooting create concern across the community. Apprehending those responsible and holding them to account is our highest priority at this time.

“There is always tension and sometimes this tension can escalate into violence on our streets. But to be very clear, this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Brigham said legislation introduced in other states had been effective in combatting gang issues but believed police were already making an impact here in reducing gun violence.

A former Mongol bikie, Abdulrahim was booted from the outlaw motorcycle gang in April alongside friends Toby Mitchell, Mark Basillie and Jason Addison.

He remains in a stable condition at the Royal Melbourne Hospital following operations to remove bullets that damaged his lungs, liver and a kidney.

No arrests have been made.

Deakin University criminologist Richard Evans said crime was shifting back outdoors following two years of coronavirus restrictions.

“COVID created space for turf wars because everyone retreated from traditional territories. Now they’re re-contesting spaces,” he said.

“To have crime you need people getting together. Broadly speaking, it’s true that some crime follows a crowd.

“We’re seeing a return of older patterns.”

In 2020, Mongol bikie Shane Bowden was gunned down on the Gold Coast soon after being shot in the lower body at a home in Epping after his release from a Victorian prison.

Then, in April, the national sergeant-at-arms of the Comancheros Tarek Zahed, 41, was shot multiple times during a trip back to NSW after recently moving to Melbourne. His brother Omar died in the gunfire.

Zahed, dubbed the Balenciaga bikie, had moved to Victoria after the Supreme Court of NSW imposed a court order that banned him from returning to Sydney unless he complied with strict conditions.

Anyone with information on the latest shooting is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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