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18 April 2010

Underbelly Hype Says Australia's Ibrahim Family, by Greg Tingle - 18th April 2010

Underbelly: The Golden Mile - explosive TV featuring mobsters (Aussie style), drugs, guns, gambling, hookers, crooked coppers, rock n roll, good times and some very bad times - how much is or was real, and how much is hype?

Media Man and Gambling911 embed themselves in Sydney's underworld to bring you news from the mean streets down under.

From the get go, let's just say that over the years crooks, gangsters, mobsters or whatever you care to call them, have usually enjoyed quite the love - hate relationship with the public and the media, and in some cases, even the police.

Aussie's love a good yard (story - true or false), as does much of the world, and crime based TV (and movies) has proven to be some of the most popular ever... from The Godfather, The Sopranos, Goodfellas, The Untouchables, Casino, Growing Up Gotti, CSI, Gangs Of Oz, to everyones (almost) Underbelly.

Criminals by nature are a colourful lot, with some very bright in the mix, and some not so smart ones to boot.

Our old mate and sometimes associate, Tim "Earthquake" Bristow was always good for a story and mixed in interesting company. Big Tim called himself "retired gangster and Godfather of Sydney" where yours truely quizzed him about his role only weeks before his (natural) death.

Some very smart operators were in and around the clan, and a few knuckleheads for good measure. Bristow has a ton of connections, man power, power, money, influence and information at his disposal. He talked it up, but his contacts and inner circle was the whose whose, and it included judges, police detectives, politicians, news media, celebrities and you get the idea.

We're not exactly certain of the connection and / or relationship our friend Bristow had with the late George Freeman, as witnessed on Network Nine's Underbelly, but its fair to say that they co-existed... neither fell prey to the other, and there was plenty of good times and money to go around for all.

Let's probe Sin City Sydney, Australia...

Fadi Ibrahim is now hitting back (no, not that type of hit) at police and news media attention on his family, claiming the focus on his family's life was "just hype" and would end after Underbelly stops screening.

The only main problem with Ibrahim Jr's argument is that Network Nine are going to keep pumping out 'Underbelly's', albeit it with more of the action taking place in the Gold Coast - Surfers Paradise region, near the NSW - QLD boarder, for our out of town readership.

The brother of Kings Cross well known identity John Ibrahim was shot five times in his Lamborghini last last year and is currently on strict conditional bail after being charged with conspiracy to murder.

But he claims the focus on his family's life was "just hype".

"I think it's all hype and it will calm down when Underbelly is finished," Mr Ibrahim told Rupert Murdoch's The Sunday Telegraph. Media Man can back up many of the media reports as numerous first hand and some second hand reports are regularly being e-mailed into the office.

'The Cross' has been in face targeted by police in recent weeks with uniformed, plainclothed and riot-squad officers patrolling the streets. While news media may have added some hype and color to the situation, it doesn't change the facts.

Numerous police sources advise there was continuing intelligence the Bandidos and Comanchero bikie gangs may confront rival gang Notorious, which is associated with the family of nightclub owner, John Ibrahim aka "King Of The Cross".

He remains the focus of the current Underbelly television series and it is feared Ibrahim's enemies and dark forces may plan to take advantage of his leaving the country for Dubai last week, while the series is being screened.

Operation Eaglehawk continues to gain intel in the meantime which has been targeting licensed venues in and around 'The Cross' and Sydney for over a month.

Assistant Commissioner Frank Mennilli said Operation Eaglehawk was not a one-off operation and police would continue targeting anti-social behaviour and violence, regardless of the publicity generated by Underbelly.

"We have police on the streets 24 hours a day, 365 days a year targeting criminal, anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related crime," Mr Mennilli said.

"Police constantly run these operations in Kings Cross, as well as in Oxford St, the CBD, The Rocks and other areas where there is a high density of people and alcohol.

"The public can rest assured police have been targeting Kings Cross for years and will continue to do so, regardless of some passing publicity generated by a TV drama."

Last week, coppers from Operation Eaglehawk made 11 arrests, conducted 46 person searches, inspected 56 businesses and issued 72 traffic infringement notices, reports News Limited.

Some more impressive (real life) numbers ... Operation Eaglehawk has investigated 294 businesses, conducted 286 person searches, issued 117 traffic infringement notices and made 73 arrests.

Fadi Ibrahim, his bodyguard Neil Cummings, and his fiancee Shayda Bastani said Underbelly was not an entirely accurate account of events, but they had watched the first episode and enjoyed it.

Mr Ibrahim said actor Firass Dirani was doing a great job playing his brother. "He's like a Lebanese John Travolta. He's doing a top job."

David Freeman, who joined Mr Ibrahim at Randwick Racecourse yesterday for the Doncaster, did not comment on the portrayal of his father George in Underbelly's first episode. Some say the races in Australia is a "sunny place for shady persons", but no one is currently commenting on that well known expression.

Fadi was bailed out after he and his younger brother Michael were charged with conspiracy to murder. Police allege it was in retaliation for the attempt on Fadi's life.

Aussie readers, its you're lucky day (technically night). Underbelly is on Channel Nine tonight - that's right, its Sunday... you wouldn't want to miss it for quids. Starts at 8.30pm, and it might warm you up to a bit of Kings Cross gambling action later in the week. Betfair Pink Pigeon birdies tell us if you have a want, need or desire, 'The Cross' is still the place to go. If you're out of luck and can't find it, you can always hope a cab and swing on over to Sydney's Star City Casino, and high rollers, if that still doesn't do it for you, Mr James Packer and co at Billionaire Inc - Crown Casino Casino in Melbourne, have those Gulfsteam jets ready and engines fired up for those who are financially qualified. Of course, you can stay at home and even play the pokes. PartyGaming even offers 'The Godfather' and Captain Cooks 'Hitman'. We know you're keen for an Underbelly and UFC slot game and the powers that be have been tipped off. Just be grateful that Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy and their bible bashing conspirators were not successful in their miserable attempts to ban your beloved Underbelly.

Enjoy the show, some of which is available for preview on the NineMSN website portal, and some of which may be getting leaked to YouTube and elsewhere.

In this world we live, information can be key, be it gambling, TV, legal, internet or whatever, and Gambling911 and Media Man are delighted to continue to bring you the news and info you won't find anywhere else. Underbelly - the verdict: Fact is stranger than fiction, but also keep in mind it's also produced to entertain the audience and bring in big numbers to advertisers and sponsors...something it is doing a smashing job of. Over 2 million Australia's are expected to tune into again tonight.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company, gaming being just one of over a dozen industries covered

*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited

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