BIKIE gangs are recruiting former soldiers from both sides of the Afghan war, targeting both Diggers for their knowledge of explosives and Afghan paramilitaries who are then used to carry out attacks.
Gang members are also associating with serving Australian military personnel in order to obtain knowledge of, or access to, firearms and explosives as the violent conflict among Sydney's gangs continues to escalate, according to NSW Police.
Dozens of bikies attended the funeral yesterday of the most recent casualty in that conflict, Comanchero member Faalau Pisu, who was shot during a wedding reception in the city earlier this month.
Days later, another bikie was hospitalised after being shot in what police believe to be a related attack.
NSW Police acting organised crime director Arthur Katsogiannis said about a dozen former soldiers who had served in Afghanistan were known to have joined the state's outlaw motorcycle gangs, which have been recruiting heavily in recent years.
"It's about what individuals can bring to the gang, so if someone has a military background and a particular expertise, they will recruit them," he said.
"What's concerning about that is: what do these ex-military personnel bring in terms of military weapons (and) explosives expertise?"
Police sources said the gangs were also targeting Afghan immigrants, who may have received paramilitary training during the ongoing conflict, to use as muscle, with a number of these men linked to recent public shootings in Sydney. Detectives believe the severity of the gangs' attacks is also escalating after a homemade bomb was left outside the Mill Hotel in Sydney -- the site of the 1984 Milperra Massacre in which six bikies died.
A number of bikie sources across the country said Australian veterans were being recruited by the gangs, but that this was an innocent trend dating back at least as far as the war in Vietnam.
These recruits are believed to include a former member of the elite SAS, who went on to become a sergeant-at-arms for a bikie gang in Western Australia.
"Every club I know of has got ex-army guys now," said Russell 'Camel' Wattie, a former member of the Outcasts motorcycle club in Queensland and spokesman for the national United Motorcycle Council.
"The guys go to the clubs, the clubs don't go to the military guys. (It means) they've got a family, a type of brotherhood that they have in the armed forces."
Sharif Amin, secretary of the Afghan Community Support Association of NSW, said he had heard of a small number of recent immigrants joining bikie gangs, but had no concrete evidence.
"Like any other new arrivals, they are very naive and disadvantaged and they don't know about (their new) environment," he said.
At least one of 10 rocket launchers stolen from the ADF sometime after 2001 is believed to have been sold through an outlaw motorcycle club, while rumours persist about which gang now has access to the other nine.
The ADF said it works with state and federal police to "investigate allegations of outlaw motorcycle gang associations with Defence members and takes appropriate strategies to mitigate any threat from outlaw motorcycle gangs to Defence".