On Monday July 29, 2013 two Middle Eastern males with links to bikie gangs and terrorists were killed just kilometres - and minutes - apart, becoming the latest victims of Sydney's out-of-control gun violence.
The targeted attacks were reportedly linked to an ongoing lethal bikie turf war between the Comanchero and Hells Angels gangs.
Vasko Boskovski and Bassil Hijazi died in a hail of bullets in Sydney's southwest, the 20th and 21st person to be killed by assassins' bullets since Barry O'Farrell came to power in March 2011.
Debt collector and businessman Boskovski, 35, a father of two, was gunned down outside his home in Earlwood about 9.30pm on Monday.
It has since emerged Boskovski was a co-director in a company with convicted Punchbowl terrorist Khaled Sharrouf, who was jailed in 2005 for plotting to blow up the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor.
About 15 minutes later, Hijazi, 18, the cousin of Comanchero southern chapter president Mick Hijazi, was shot in the chest at least five times as he walked through a carpark in Bexley, just 3km away. Paramedics treated the teenager at the car park and took him to St George Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
His murder came just 12 days after he survived being shot in the neck.
On July 16, 2013, Hijazi was shot in the neck as he sat in a car on Prince Street in Bexley.
Witnesses said two vehicles chased Hijazi's sedan into the poorly lit street and cornered his vehicle, before someone emerged and fired up to six rounds into the car, one of which struck the victim in the neck. Mr Hijazi survived that shooting and staggered to a nearby home for help.
Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said Hijazi was facing a drug supply charge and had reported to police on Monday at 7pm, less than three hours before he was shot dead: "He was very well known to us," he said.
The shootings come after a wave of gun violence across the city in the previous, in which two other men were shot dead.
Hells Angels nominee Tyrone Lee Slemnik was shot dead outside an apartment block on George Street in Eastlakes. Ali Jammas, who also had motorcycle gang links, was shot dead outside a home in Abbotsbury.
But it’s not just turf wars.
One former counter terrorism officer, who asked not to be named, said the gun culture had become so ingrained among Middle Eastern males in southwest Sydney that they have taken to settling so-called “honour” disputes with guns.
“The culture is all guns and drugs. If someone looks at your wife the wrong way, you shoot them. They think they’re bulletproof and they have this wilful disregard for authority.”
For the past two years there has been more than one shooting incident reported to police every three days, centred in an arc from Punchbowl and Bankstown to Auburn and Berala, but with shootings as far afield as Kings Cross, Bellevue Hill and Birchgrove.
In the previous month there have been 13 serious shooting incidents reported in southwestern Sydney, bringing this year’s total to at least 71. Houses have been shot up and one man was popped in the leg outside a Smithfield kebab shop.
The State Crime Command’s Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad launched Operation Apollo in February 2013 to try to get on top of gun violence. They have arrested more than 320 people, laid more than 600 charges, and seized more than 80 firearms.
But the shootings continue.