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Outlaw bikie clubs vie for Middle Eastern recruits

Satan's Soldiers

Police investigate a fire at the Melton clubhouse of the gang Satan's Soldiers. Picture: Andrew Brownbill

WARRING outlaw bikie gangs, the Hells Angels and Bandidos, have been recruiting members of rival Middle-Eastern families.

The Chaouks, who have members inside and outside prison "patched up" with the Hells Angels, are being pitted against their mortal enemies, the Haddaras, who have been recruited by the Bandidos.

It comes as the Satan's Soldiers gang, which has links to the Hells Angels, awoke yesterday to find a suspicious fire had been lit at its Norton Drive, Melton, clubhouse.

It is only metres away from where its rivals, the Bandidos-aligned Diablos, are based.

Police have ruled out a molotov cocktail was used to start the fire.

The Middle-Eastern influence within bikie clubs is feared as a potentially deadly mix.

The Chaouk family believes their father, Macchour, was shot dead by a member of the Haddara family in 2010.

The sniper-style murder, at the family home in Brooklyn, has never been solved.

The recruiting of rival family members fuels an already tense "war" between the Hells Angels and Bandidos, following the shooting ambush on Bandidos members outside the Melton clubhouse of their feeder club, the Diablos, in March.

An arm of the Hells Angels, known as the Nomads, is believed to be responsible for the indiscriminate rampage.

Though there has not been a notable payback for the Melton attack, which left Bandido Toby Mitchell with a bullet wound, a hit was organised on a prominent member of the Hells Angels but it was thwarted.

Yesterday's fire is the second lit at a Satan's Soldiers clubhouse since March.

Detectives and a forensic chemist searched the premises for clues and removed items from the heavily fortified building, which is only metres from where the Hells Angels wrecked the Diablos clubhouse and attacked gang members before laying in wait to shoot Bandidos members who were called in as reinforcements.

Investigators were probing whether the Satan's Soldiers clubhouse and their members were part of the March attack.

The club's Bendigo headquarters was gutted by fire a week later, which was considered to be retribution.

There is growing concern Victoria is becoming Australia's bikie capital, with massive growth of "patched members" now exceeding 1200 in the state alone.



In what is considered to be similar to an arms race for members, which has been spurred by the massive recruiting drive by the Rebels MC, almost all clubs have added to their ranks and are expanding their operations domestically and globally.

Hells Angels, which were the dominant club in Victoria for almost four decades, have opened Nomad chapters in Seaford and St Albans.

St Albans, a western suburb of Melbourne with a high crime rate, was officially opened about a fortnight ago.

The Nomads arm of the Hells Angels are the enforcers of the club.

Their expansion, after being relative dormant in Melbourne for decades, follows the opening of a new chapter of the Red Devils, another Angels feeder club, on the Mornington Peninsula.

The Herald Sun has been told the feeder clubs present as great a danger as the big five: Hells Angels, Rebels, Bandidos, Comancheros and Finks.

The feeder clubs, many of whom want to graduate to the mother club, are tasked with much of the criminal grunt work.

Police are also struggling to dent bikie gangs because victims and witnesses still fear making statements against brutal gang members.

The victim of an alleged minor assault after being confronted by Bandidos members on Wednesday in Clarendon St, South Melbourne, is reluctant to co-operate with the investigation.

The 26-year-old told the Herald Sun he fears for his safety.

If the victim recants on any statement he may have made, he could be charged with an offence.

While the force fights the threat of outlaw bikies with four dedicated taskforces targeting all areas from organised bikie crime to police corruption involving outlaw gangs, it is also fighting a small but persistent gang in Wangaratta, The Tramps MC, have mounted a legal battle to get their confiscated guns back after their initial attempts were thwarted by Chief Commissioner Ken Lay.

Their lawyer, John Suta, and club members have applied to join the Firearms Appeals Committee in response to allegations they have not been given a fair hearing.

The Tramps MC may also become a key player against the new anti-bikie laws.

On Saturday night club hosted a party to protest the laws, with members from the Immortals, Iron Horsemen, Satan's Soldiers, Vikings and God Squad among 300 people at the Wangaratta clubhouse.

Key speeches were given by club president Ronnie Harding and barrister Trevor Monti QC.

Mr Suta said the new anti-bikie laws were reminiscent of 1950s McCarthyism.

''Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover would have been proud of this legislation and what it is trying to achieve,'' he said.

Mr Suta said about 30 police members kept watch as a band well known to bikie clubs, The Giants, was joined by Wilbur Wilde on stage.

But despite the threat of legal action that looms, the Coalition is forging ahead, with Victoria Police only months away from presenting a brief of evidence to a Supreme Court judge to ban a high-profile outlaw club.

A government spokesman said Victoria had some of the toughest legislation in Australia to deal with the gangs.

''There is no place in Victoria for outlaw motorcycle gangs and under our legislation they will have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and they won't be able to have outlaw gang headquarters in our suburbs and in our communities,'' a spokesman said.


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