The Daily Telegraph
Ahmed Hawchar and Abdullah Hawchar outside Downing Centre Courts. Source: The Daily Telegraph
A BANKSTOWN businessman who claims he was the victim of extortion says he was threatened with a gun, had a firecracker thrown into his store and was told he would be “slaughtered”.
Juicylicious bar owner Ali Issawi said that, in the weeks before he was pressured into selling his store for just $10,000 to 23-year-old Bankstown man Ahmed Hawchar, he was the target of a campaign of terror.
Giving evidence in the Downing Centre Local Court, Mr Issawi said he saw a man come out of the Al-Risalah religious book shop across the road “holding a pistol in his right hand”.
“When I looked at him I saw the pistol in his hand and I was very afraid and nervous. He pointed the pistol straight at me,” Mr Issawi said.
“He actioned the pistol as if it was firing at me. He did that three times.
“After that he tucked his gun back into his waist (band) and he walked back in to the bookstore. At that time I was very nervous and I could not settle myself.”Mr Issawi says a gang of between 30 and 40 unidentified men from the religious bookstore and prayer centre “jumped the fence” outside his Restwell St juice bar shortly afterwards.
Mr Issawi said one of the men “pinned me up against the wall” and said: “We are going to burn (your store) down.”
Another unidentified man approached him and said: “We are going to slaughter your necks one at a time.”
He said some of the men were carrying pistols tucked into their trousers.
Mr Issawi alleged the owner of the Sunni Muslim Al-Risalah religious book shop, Wissam Haddad, told Mr Issawi the next day that that his “boys” were just “protecting their religion”.
Mr Issawi, a Shia Muslim, said shortly afterwards that a “sound bomb” or “bunger” was thrown into his store.
The prosecution alleges Mr Issawi signed over his business – which he believed was worth $75,000 – to Ahmed Hawchar on July 9 after he received various threats. Hawchar, his younger brother Abdullah and another man, Jalal Mariam, face charges of extortion. The hearing continues today.