Killed mother was Sydney’s rarest gangster

Some say the gunning down of women marks a new low in Sydney’s crime war. Others disagree. “To say the rules are out the window – well, there are no rules,” said Michael Kennedy, associate professor of policing and criminal justice at Western Sydney University.

“The rules change from week to week. She became a risk.”

Source Crime World agreed. “I don’t see any distinction between you being a drug lord, being a woman or a man.”

Tinsel Fadlalla's house in Panania, which she had rented for several years.

Tinsel Fadlalla’s house in Panania, which she had rented for several years.Recognition:Nick Moir

Police believe al-Hazouri was accidentally killed in a deliberate attack on Fadlallah; that she was collateral damage.

Her family is also convinced of this. In an appeal for financial support, a woman posing as her sister described her as “an innocent party” who is the family’s sole breadwinner in Lebanon, where an economic crisis has left deep poverty.

“She was a ray of sunshine,” one of her friends told Network Ten. “She was out there doing her job. You want to feel safe in our neighborhood. How can you feel safe when innocent people are being shot for being in the wrong place at the wrong time?”

In the history of Sydney gang wars, it was the death of an innocent man caught in the crossfire that sparked the greatest outrage and fear in the community, inspiring political leaders to invest additional resources to find out what led up .

That’s what happened in the 1984 Milperra massacre, a shootout between two biker gangs in a pub parking lot that killed a 14-year-old bystander. And again in 1998, when a 14-year-old boy accidentally went to the wrong address on Telopea Street and was stabbed.

Fingerprint dust covers a car on Hendy Avenue, Panania.

Fingerprint dust covers a car on Hendy Avenue, Panania.Recognition:Nick Moir

More sophisticated criminal organizations worked harder to ensure accuracy. They often waited until the subject was alone or out of the car, even aborting hits when the situation looked too likely to get messy and prompt too much investigation.

Because of this, the source with knowledge of the Sydney gang wars said the shooting looked undisciplined. “Once you start hurting innocent people, especially if it’s a child, [more disciplined gangs know] it brings too much attention,” the source said.

O’Toole said Monday he spoke to Police Commissioner Karen Webb and “she is throwing the full resources of the police force into this investigation.” Police have also beefed up special forces targeting gangland crime, he said.

This is the fifth alleged Gangland hit so far this year. 14 people have died since 2020. Following three killings in April and May, all believed to be linked to drug trafficking, NSW Police have set up Taskforce Erebus to investigate and prevent the escalation of violence.

Police also say a nine-year-old girl wearing pajamas was intentionally shot in the hip while helping her mother unload groceries at Connells Point in July when the original target, a 36-year-old man, failed to show up. She survived and two men were charged.


Back on Hendy Avenue, police knocked on the street again Monday, and fingerprints covered a white car near the firing range. Neighbors stood in their doors and watched the media swarm. “I just heard pop, pop, pop, pop,” one said, estimating about four or five shots.

Many had talked to Fadlallah. Few knew her. Her mother, who visited her regularly, tended to have conversations, mostly about plants. They had seen their younger son in the house, and a neighbor said she also appears to be friends with her former husbands.

Her second husband, Helal Safi – who is said to have weighed 200kg – died at his home last January. In 2010, he survived 42 stab wounds in prison. He was arrested again in late 2020 and charged with eight firearms misdemeanors.

First husband Shadi Derbas – who “grew up and grew out of” crime, according to a senior police source – was an associate of crime boss Danny Karam’s gang, which was involved in drug dealing in the 1990s.


He was jailed for evidence tampering when he removed DNA and fingerprint evidence from a getaway car. Police sources said the split was amicable and during Derba’s dealings with criminal figures, his wife was not noticed by the police.

The question facing the police is the extent of Fadlallah’s own involvement in the crime game.

On Sunday, Homicide Commander Danny Doherty said officers believed she was targeted because of her “previous relationships with other known identities.” But others say there might be more to it than stalking an enemy’s loved ones.

She was associated with several companies, including a reputable car rental company registered in her own home. “There’s a lot of smoking around these kinds of businesses, especially when it comes to car leasing,” said someone with knowledge of organized crime.

With Sally Rawsthorne and Natassia Chrysanthos

The Morning Edition Newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here. Killed mother was Sydney’s rarest gangster

Joel McCord

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