AUSTRALIA: MARTYRS ON MOTORBIKES?

Police have discovered pictures of Osama bin Laden at a home linked to a worrying new jihadi motorcycle gang called Soldiers of Islam, whose members include former Iraqi soldiers with weapons training.

Daily Telegraph–Photos of the fugitive al-Qaeda leader were found recently at the home of a gang member during a criminal investigation. Soldiers of Islam, also known as Sons of Islam, is believed to be an offshoot of outlaw biker gang the Bandidos, which has a clubhouse at Mermaid Beach on the Gold Coast.

Sources say the gang, comprising young Muslim men who sport “SOI” tattoos, has sprung up on the Glitter Strip relatively recently. While only small in membership, the gang is coming under increasing attention from police investigating biker links to crimes involving drugs, guns and violence.

“They are relatively new on the Gold Coast scene but seem to be involving themselves in some scary things,” a source said. “They are associated with the Bandidos. Some of the members are ex-Iraqi soldiers with weapons training, so it’s quite a worry.” Middle Eastern gangs, while active in Sydney, have only recently been making their presence felt in Queensland and particularly on the Gold Coast.

Police have identified bikies from Sydney as being involved in the drive-by shooting murder of Gold Coast father-of-two Omega Ruston outside McDonald’s at Burleigh Heads on Australia Day 2008. The case remains unsolved.

One of the Coast’s most notorious bikies is Lebanese-born Yassar Bakir, who joined the high-profile Finks gang several years ago. Bakir was last month convicted of importing GBL, a chemical used to make the powerful drug “fantasy”, and was jailed for six years.

The trial heard Bakir used violence and threats to force another man to import the drug into Australia from China. Bakir was also charged with the attempted murder of a former professional rugby player, cage fighter and Japanese Yakuza bodyguard, who was pumped with bullets on the Southport Spit in 2006.