The brutal execution of a celebrity chauffer in front of his 12-year-old son may have been linked to the kidnapping and ransom of a Sydney businessman, sources claim.
Taha Sabbagh, 40, was shot at least six times on Thursday outside the Elite Fight Force gym in Sefton before being found slumped over the console of his black Mercedes SUV.
Mr Sabbagh, who owned a car hire business, had just arrived to the western Sydney gym to bring his son in for a 6.30am boxing lesson.
In a shocking development, underworld sources told the Daily Telegraph Mr Sabbagh could have been targeted as payback for an incident where a jeweller was kidnapped and tortured for almost 24-hours.
The man was only released when a ransom of about $10million was paid.
Taha Sabbagh, 40 (pictured with social media celebrity Hasbulla Magomedov), was shot at least six times outside the Elite Fight Force gym in Sefton before being found slumped over the console of his black Mercedes SUV
In a shocking development, underworld sources claim Mr Sabbagh could have been targeted as payback for an incident where a jeweller was kidnapped and tortured for almost 24-hours (victim is pictured in blured image during the ordeal)
In a horrific video of the man’s kidnapping last October, he is heard begging for help to be freed.
‘Whatever it is you can get off them, tell them I’ll pay them after. I’ll pay whatever it is, please I beg you get me out of here please,’ the man pleaded in the video.
Daily Mail Australia does not suggest Mr Sabbagh was behind the kidnapping, but it is understood that his killing could have been a ‘warning sign’ to criminal gang members, some of whom train the Elite Fight Force gym.
‘Some of the crew at that gym were behind the kidnapping… this is a retaliation,’ an underworld source said.
‘They are some of the heaviest of heavy crooks at that gym… it will be on now, these boys will retaliate too.’
It is not suggested that the businessman, who is currently abroad, is involved in criminal activity or the killing of Mr Sabbagh, but he allegedly has links to some criminals willing to seek retaliation for him.
A witness heard at least ten shots fired and the sound of a car screeching away after the shooting on Thursday.
A nearby worker heard Mr Sabbagh’s son screaming: ‘Help my dad’s been shot!’
Paramedics desperately tried to revive Mr Sabbagh, who was a common presence at the MMA gym with his boy. He was unable to be saved and died at the scene.
Mourners paid their respects to Mr Sabbagh at a service at Lakemba Mosque (pictured), in south-west Sydney, at 1pm on Saturday
Police forensic officers examined the scene of a fatal shooting outside the Elite Fight Force mixed martial arts gym in Sefton, Sydney, Thursday, March 2, 2023
Pictured are members of the Elite Fight Force martial arts gym in Sefton, in Sydney’s southwest. There is no suggestion those in the image are involved in any criminal activity
NSW Police Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said police believe the shooting was a ‘targeted attack’ but would investigate whether Mr Sabbagh was ‘the intended target’.
‘He was not well known to police, he was associated with some people who are well known to police and have strong criminal activity connected to them,’ he said.
Police believe at least two offenders fired the shots out of a Mazda 3. The car was later found burnt out at Birrong train station, nearby.
Superintendent Doherty said he believed the attack was isolated and confirmed the boy was unharmed.
‘The people that have perpetrated this murder have no regard for human life, knowing there was a 12-year-old boy in the car and still carrying out the execution in front of him,’ he said.
Mourners paid their respects to Mr Sabbagh at a service at Lakemba Mosque, in south-west Sydney, at 1pm on Saturday.
Family and friends comforted each other as the coffin carrying the slain father was carried up the stairs and into the mosque.
‘Nobody saw this coming,’ a preacher from inside the mosque said.
The coffin was then carried back down the front steps following the service while the mourners solemnly chanted around it.
The coffin was then loaded into the back of a hearse waiting on the street before it was taken to Rookwood Cemetery.
Several mourners were seen wiping away tears and embracing each other.
A single police car was parked on the opposite side of the road while patrol cars swept up and down the road every few minutes.
Paramedics desperately tried to revive Mr Sabbagh (pictured), who was a common presence at the MMA gym with his boy. He was unable to be saved and died at the scene
The Mazda 3 used in the shooting was later found burnt out at the nearby Birrong Train Station
The gym where Mr Sabbagh was killed was still closed over the weekend but is set to reopen on Monday.
Owner Hany Sbat is abroad taking part in an MMA event overseas and is said to be ‘upset and angry’ by Mr Sabbagh’s death. There is no suggestion he was in anyway involved in either the kidnapping or shooting.
The gym had reportedly been raided in the past by police officers and some gym members had been served with Firearm Prohibition Orders (FPO).
An FPO allows police to stop and search a person, their vehicle or a property they are visiting without a warrant.
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