Chilling new theory after gym assassination

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The assassination of a dad in front of his 12-year-old son could be retaliation for a gangland shooting last year, an underworld source has claimed.

Taha Sabbagh, 40, was shot dead outside the Elite Fight Force gym in Sefton, in western Sydney, last week as he dropped his boy off for a boxing class.

Mr Sabbagh had no criminal history and was not known to the police, but he “was associated with some people who are well known to police and have strong criminal activity connected to them,” NSW Police Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said.

Underworld sources told the Daily Telegraph that the shooting may have been a revenge attack following the murder of Lone Wolf bikie Yusuf Nazlioglu, who was shot dead in a car park in Rhodes, in Sydney’s inner west, last June.

Taha Sabbagh (left) with Elite Fight Force gym owner Hany SbatTaha Sabbagh (left) with Elite Fight Force gym owner Hany Sbat

“Straight after the shooting guys at the gym thought it was a in retaliation for the kidnapping of (a Sydney jeweller) who had to hand over millions in cash, heaps of cocaine and a watch worth millions,” a source said.

“But when the CCTV became public there are guys convinced it was a bloke from the Lone Wolf and killing this guy was all about revenge for ‘Youi’ (Yusuf Nazlioglu).”

Nazlioglu was accused of murdering top Comanchero bikie Mahmoud ‘Mick’ Hawi, who was shot outside a Rockdale gym in February 2018.

There are now fears that Mr Sabbagh;s shooting could spark an all-out bikie war.

“There are different groups throwing cash in for a war chest to hit back over this shooting,” another source said.

Yusuf Nazlioglu and his wife Jade. Picture: InstagramYusuf Nazlioglu and his wife Jade. Picture: Instagram

Police are considering whether Mr Sabbagh may have been a victim of mistaken identity, with the gym’s owner Hany Sbat driving the same model of Mercedes as Mr Sabbagh.

Mr Sabbagh and Mr Sbat have been friends for a long time and were seen together at the gym and at MMA events over the years.

“They (the gunmen) just took a chance, it’s not like they stopped to check if it was him,” a police source said in a report by the Daily Telegraph.

“He was an easy target at that time.”

Mr Sabbagh was shot at least six times as his screaming 12-year-old son sat “right next to him” in his car.

The CCTV images captured from a business across the road from Elite Fight Force gym shows the man in grey pants fire six shots.The CCTV images captured from a business across the road from Elite Fight Force gym shows the man in grey pants fire six shots.

“All I heard was a young guy screaming: ‘Help me, help me, my dad’s been shot’,” one witness told The Daily Telegraph of the moment he arrived on the scene.

The shooting had all the “hallmarks” of a “targeted organised crime murder”, Det Supt Doherty told reporters.

“I know this happened in daylight in a suburban area of Sydney, and I think the community should be appalled that this happened in front of a 12-year-old, quite rightly,” Det Supt Doherty, who heads the state’s homicide squad, said.

“We’ve got a 40-year-old man who has been shot down in front of his son, and he is the victim.”

The young boy, Det Supt Doherty said, was “traumatised” by the incident, “but luckily he is uninjured. Physically uninjured”.

Read related topics:Sydney

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