The Turf War
How the murder of the promising footballer Eddie Moussa sheds light on Sweden’s gang culture
Conny Chammas is just another kid who gets to scrawl his name in the gravel on his first day of football practice. It’s the late 1980s. He’s four, it’s fun, he comes back. His parents hope their introverted kid will find friends. He doesn’t, he just finds the sport that he wants to dedicate his life to.
When he’s seven, his uncle picks him up for a day out.
“Conny, we’re going down to Södertälje to watch Assyriska.”
At seven, Conny is too small to understand the significance, for he hasn’t yet grown to yearn for the white strip with the blue and red sun rays – the flag of the stateless Assyrian nation. He will soon, though, and as they head to Södertälje, 40 minutes south of the Swedish capital, his uncle explains. “This is our national team, Conny,” he tells the small, quiet kid with the pensive blue-eyed gaze.
They arrive at Bårsta, the small stadium; a running track circles the grass pitch and high-rise flats punctuate the forest-clad rise beyond. There’s a Max hamburger chain restaurant nearby, where you eat afterwards if you’ve not eaten more than your fill of sunflower seeds.
There are sunflower seeds everywhere. The husks litter the ground, amusing Conny as he is buffeted about on his way to the modest stands, but soon he’s transfixed by something else entirely: the game. They’ll soon become his heroes, these men on the pitch. Conny is just one of the innumerable Assyrian boys who follow the ups and downs of their team with relentless dedication.
The club was founded the same year that Aydin Aho was born, 1974. When they reach their thirties, both boy and club have matured. By 2005, he’s joined the board and the club is on the cusp of real fame: it’s the year that Assyriska have a real shot at the Swedish Premier League – Allsvenskan. They just need to beat Örgryte to qualify. Halfway through the home match against Örgryte, the lights go out.
“It was on max,” a spectator later recalls. “Really all you needed for it to blow was for someone to put on the coffee pot in the club house.”
Conny is in the crowd, of course. He’s 17 by now and busy spotting his favourite players on the field.
And while the stands are busier than ever, and everyone gets to go home with a 2-1 win against Örgryte, there’s still the away leg, which Assyriska lose, and thus miss their chance at Allsvenskan
“I don’t remember much of that game, except going home disappointed,” said Conny.
But then another club loses its license due to poor club finances, and suddenly Conny, Aydin, the players, the entire city of Södertälje and Assyrians worldwide stand witness to a small refugee community’s twenty years of grit bearing fruit. Assyriska are in Allsvenskan. The Guardian writes about them, and more foreign media will follow.
The club inaugurates its 6,000-seat arena in 2006. It’s the same year that Aho and his colleagues decide to welcome back the local talent Eddie Moussa, who’s been on a sabbatical of sorts with another club. Aydin has kept an eye on the boy from an early age. “When he was young I remember him full of life, full of energy. I mean football was a great way for him to get rid of that energy. And he was enormously confident, not cocky, or cocky in a way that was okay for someone that age.”
Coltish, funny, kind, helpful, a mentor to the younger kids climbing up to the top team. The descriptions come tumbling out. Eddie’s brother Yaacoub would often come to watch, and their mother Nayla never missed a match: she even travelled to away games, Aydin said. And while Yaacoub had also played for the club when he was younger, “he was never as talented as Eddie.”
But after a few years, Aydin noticed that Eddie was no longer developing, he just never quite got his big break. So he suggested it was time for Eddie to change clubs, get some new experiences. Eddie was transferred to a team north of Stockholm instead, but just a year later Aydin asked Eddie to come back.
Eddie declined to negotiate a salary for his new three-year contract, telling Aydin just to pay him whatever he thought best. “It felt like the most important thing for him was to get a chance to come back, that it was a second chance for him. And that passion and that joy that I saw in him, it was enormous. I don’t think I’ve seen it with anyone else. And when he started playing, when he put back on the Assyriska FC kit, that joy, that pride…”
The years go by and Aydin gets to see that his decision to take Eddie back was the right one. ”From 2007 he really made his mark and yes, he became one of our key players.”
Eddie’s only problem, Aydin concedes, has been his temper. “He could lose it and shout at referees and at teammates sometimes at the beginning of his career. When he came back, I saw him mould that spark and aggression into something positive instead. He could in a way control it in a completely new way on the field.”
His family would later tell the police that Eddie was in talks about joining the Lebanon national team.
Aydin in particular remembers a game against Jönköping in 2009. “It was our last league game, it was absolutely crucial. We needed one more point to get back up to the Premier League, and he scored two goals.
“He was Assyrian, born and raised in Södertälje. If you look on YouTube, look at the joy he shows and how the fans were extra happy because he scored the goal, because Eddie grew up here, he had a very special relationship with the fans, he was extremely appreciated. He was so loved, he was really a warrior and I think all fans, all fans love a warrior that gives 110% and gives his all for the kit and the club crest.”
That goal was scored just one year before Eddie’s murder.
In the years running up to a six-month period of unprecedented violence in Södertälje, life goes on much like it always has. The Assyrians and their brethren the Arameans, interlinked communities that both adhere to the Orthodox Church, make up more than 40% of the town’s 80,000 people. A town known for being the home of industrial giants AstraZeneca (drugs) and Scania (trucks) and increasingly for its football teams (now in plural, as the Aramean club Syrianska FC has also joined the league). It’s a town where a religious minority has found refuge and thrived through its entrepreneurial spirit.
The police, however, have long been worried about too many cash transactions between friends and relatives because it provides a breeding ground for usury and extortion – selling a debt is easy – which seldom are crimes in isolation. “Grey loans is how organised criminal gangs make money in Sweden,” said Detective Superintendent Gunnar Appelgren.
Conny is in his teens and not much concerning politics or policing reaches his ears. He’s too busy playing football, and he’s finally got the chance to train with Assyriska, so his commutes to Södertälje begin – the youth teams are still training at Bårsta, which Conny prefers anyway because it fosters a communal spirit. He finds the new arena too big, too impersonal.
He feels nothing but pure joy when he slips on the jersey. “It really is like your national team, and wearing that shirt, playing in it is like a dream,” he says. But the dream is short-lived. He starts to find the commute down to Södertälje too long and he starts to wonder if it’s worth it. He notices that the coaches have their favourites, and it has nothing to do with talent.
“There’s a guy in my team, he’s really not fit, I mean, he’s really overweight, and he gets to play every match, every minute because his dad’s on the board,” he said. “I don’t know how many matches we’ve lost because of him and it’s really frustrating that the rest of us have to share the match time that’s left over.”
After a year, Conny leaves, but he’ll never be rid of his love for Assyriska, but that love doesn’t spare the club from his criticism. ”They’ve started to buy non-Assyrian players, why don’t they use [the money] to get the best coaches and nurture the talents properly from the ground up instead?” he wonders.
He cites as the two best examples Eddie Moussa and Kennedy Bakircioglü (who would go on to join Stockholm club Hammarby in 2012). “They buy in new players instead of investing in the players they have,” Conny said. “Assyrians have a passion that is unrivalled. Few clubs can match that passion and if you can harness that passion earlier on… look at Kennedy, there could be an unlimited number of Kennedys.
“And Eddie is fantastic, he has amazing possibilities to go really far and he is without doubt the best player in the team. He’s explosive, technical, the ball’s glued to his foot, he treats it in a special way. He has a European style of football, by which I mean a technical, intelligent game where you assess the situation. And he is very fast.”
23 December 2009. That’s when things start to spiral out of control and do so fast. It strikes close to Eddie, because a murder takes place at the Oasis, the community centre run by his big brother Yaacoub. And the victim is a close friend of his little brother Dany.
A man wearing a hoodie walks into the Oasis and unleashes a salvo of bullets into the torso of Dany’s friend Mohaned. Outside, it’s snowing heavily. It’s the dead of night. When the ambulance shows up, it ferries Mohaned north to Stockholm’s leading research hospital, Karolinska.
Once there, Mohaned’s taken to surgery and the news isn’t good: the 25 year old has sustained injuries to the liver and pancreas and to the left kidney, which the surgeon removes. They drain two litres of fluid from his abdomen. When the surgeon opens up Mohaned’s chest, he puts a clip on his aorta.
It’s no use. At ten past nine in the morning, Mohaned dies. He leaves a wife and three children. He leaves his friends, not least Dany and the rest who wear the red and black of the X-Team, an off-shoot of the motorcycle club The Bandidos.
Eddie’s eldest brother Yaacoub, 40, has every right to be furious. He’s told their little brother Dany that he and his friends aren’t allowed to wear gang colours at the Oasis. It’s happened before, Dany trailing in here with Mohaned in tow, wearing the red insignia of the X-Team.
Dany… He’s had his fair share of anguish from him already. Yaacoub has told his wife Sarah so many stories: that time when he broke up a fight between Dany and some guy and Dany got so furious at him for not backing him up that he pulled a gun on his own brother. Or the time that Dany was giving the police attitude and Yaacoub tried to intervene, and when things got out of hand and the police ended up detaining Yaacoub instead, Dany just stood there smirking, saying that it served him right.
Yaacoub’s wife Sarah considers it a never-ending chore to keep Dany out of trouble and alive, and adds that the middle brother Eddie was once rude to her mum. It doesn’t really matter, though, what the Moussas do or how they act because they’re Yaacoub’s brothers and as the oldest he has to look out for them.
The police detain Abraham Aho on suspicion of the murder of Mohaned. Aho is the kid cousin of notorious local bad boy Bernard Khouri – also known simply the Tall One in Arabic: al-Taweel, which in later court documents is at times anglicised into Altaville. He has already spent several years in jail for assault and various other offences.
Aho stays locked up for months as the police and the prosecutor try to gather enough evidence, but they find that getting witnesses to talk is near impossible. One man who says he might want to testify, because he recognised the hooded man and believes him to be Aho, is beaten up.
The police are waiting for a forensics report, and when it comes back they have to let Aho go. There simply is not enough evidence.
Aho and Khouri and a bunch of friends get ready for a night out. The Strip nightclub fills up as bartenders and doormen keep an eye on the gang that swarms Khouri, but also on Dany who gets drunker and drunker celebrating his birthday. It is unusual for the two groups to party in the same spot. A bouncer counts the crowd and estimates that there are some 50 people around Khouri. While the staff are wary, everything so far seems to be jovial. At some point, however, despite the calm, a threat is spoken:
“If anything happens to my brother…” Yaacoub tells one of Khouri’s closest friends.
One drink turns into two, five, ten, nobody is counting and absolutely nobody is worrying about the tab. Time to leave and they cram into the car, but Khouri is hungry. He climbs out and steps over to the all-night diner to order a hamburger.
When the shooting begins, Khouri’s cousin Sherbel Said is at the wheel. As a bullet reaches his spine and tears at the nerves, his foot slumps. His red Volvo slows. His legs aren’t working, and as he looks up he realises that he is staring at the barrel of a gun held sideways through the window of a passing car.
When Khouri hears the shooting he sprints back to the car, to his friends. He’s not the only one on his way there because onlookers are descending on the Volvo to take in the iron scent of blood and the tinsel of crushed glass. Then they all see Khouri and the crowd parts to let him near.
“A tall person gets into the car,” a police officer on site reports.
Tall he is. He scrambles, all six foot three of him, to save his cousin. He sees Said, whose body has been torn up by eight bullets, four of them to the chest. Said is hanging out of the car door, while in the passenger seat their friend Metin, who has taken non-fatal hits to the stomach and wrists, croaks and wheezes, “What happened?”
“You tell me,” Khouri remembers thinking.
He heaves Said’s body out of the way, climbs in and drives with all his might, but Said is lifeless when Khouri gets him to the emergency room at Södertälje Hospital.
Under bright and harsh white light, the doctors bring Said back to life. He has lost the use of his legs and has half a lung cut out, but he survives.
The drive-by has got the attention of the police chiefs, and it is decided to take a proper, long-term swipe at organised crime in the town. “It has become impossible from a police point of view but also politically to ignore this any longer,” DSI Appelgren realises. And it’s now his job to do something about it.
Margareta Linderoth, Appelgren’s boss, a Guns N’ Roses fan who’s just left counterterrorism to become head of criminal investigations at county police, gives him two days to draft an action plan. She doesn’t think there’s much difference between terrorism and organised crime; she understands the structures, the money involved. The prestige.
Appelgren knows that they need to nip this in the bud, if it’s not yet too late, and of course there will be payback. No one puts a slug in someone’s spine and walks away without repercussions. When it comes to these kinds of boys, revenge is about honour.
And if this drive-by was, as it in all likelihood was, payback for the murder of Mohaned, then the X-Team is likely behind it. Which means that for Dany, being the brother of both the local football hero Eddie and the respected community figure Yaacoub might no longer be enough to keep him safe.
A few months later, on a hot summer’s evening as June makes way for July, a football fan, we’ll call Sam Aslan, although that is not his real name, makes his way to the Oasis. He gave up his regular joint after it was raided a few times by the police – bulky men in black squad gear screaming at them to get down on the floor. Once he just lay down flat on the sofa instead of getting down on the floor, so that he could keep on watching the Premier League game on the television. After a couple more raids – he never found out what the police were looking for – he got fed up and decided to come here instead.
It’s a larger space, tucked into a corner of the odd-shaped Ronna Mall, which isn’t a mall really, rather a towering hulk of an apartment block but with an atrium and a central square. Around that central square there are shops and small businesses, a betting shop, a hairdresser.
There are quite a few people in tonight, the four or five tables all have visitors. Posters of Wayne Rooney and Michael Ballack hang on one side, by the TV. The night toils on, this club isn’t bad, he reckons.
An older woman shows up. It’s clearly the proprietor’s mother; she has the same generous nose, the same facial structure. She is carrying bread and vegetables to feed her children. Sam suspects that she’s grown those vegetables herself: Assyrians love their allotments and he is proved right when Eddie, the younger boy, the one who plays for their team, exclaims merrily that his mother grows quality organic vegetables.
As Yaacoub and Eddie’s mother prepares to leave, Eddie makes sure she has money for her bus ride home.
Several hours pass. Some kids saunter in, probably to buy under-the-table booze, then disappear as quickly as they came. Sam learns later that the police believe these boys are scouts, sent in to check out the scene.
People come and go, cards are shuffled and dealt, minor sums of money change hands. Often people just play for the table, the loser pays the tab. At one point, a man at his table points out a younger man across the room, and points out that they’re in the presence of a “maths genius” who’s known to host high-level gambling events behind locked doors.
It’s well past midnight, the clock strikes one, it starts to ease towards two. And then there’s a sudden shift in the air. It begins in the demeanour and the gaze of the man sitting opposite him at the table, a man who has a clear view of the door behind Sam. The man is now staring past Sam’s shoulder, so Sam starts to turn around. He sees the two men. They’re clad head to toe in black.
“Oh for god’s sake, not again! Not the god-damn squad team, those idiot police are persecuting me,” Sam thinks, this time rather irate. “I came here to get away from these assholes.”
But this time there’s no shouting. No one shouts at them to get down.
Eddie has also turned around and as he does, he swears. Sam doesn’t understand why he’s swearing. There’s a split second of calm, then a sharp crack, and yet again, crack upon crack. There’s pandemonium, but this time it isn’t raised voices and muffled annoyance like when the squad team raided Sam’s old joint, it’s physical; all of a sudden there’s chaos.
Sam’s confused, he’s dragged up to standing, as though pulled and shoved about by a tidal wave of fear. They all run for a back door. Sam can hear the sound of firecrackers, rapid bursts, clack clack clack, but he’s confused, why are they running away from firecrackers, what’s happening?
Once outside, Sam turns back and walks round the building, back to the side of the Oasis. He’s not alone outside. Older men have escaped from a community hall that lies wall-to-wall with the Oasis – they didn’t mistake the sound of the AK47 for firecrackers – and having no way to exit their room without passing through the Oasis, they opened the window and threw themselves the half-storey down to safety.
But where are Eddie and Yaacoub?
The throng slowly builds up. People join them from the flats above, the apartment blocks nearby. The police show up. The Moussa brothers are still nowhere to be seen. Then a black-haired woman shows up; she’s beautiful, pale, and she is clearly distraught, she is shaking from head to toe, supported by a friend. The woman walks up to the entrance to the Oasis. Sam sees her exchange a few words with the police officer, who nods and then disappears into the building, leaving what Sam realises must be Yaacoub’s wife behind. The cop comes out again, alone. If Yaacoub’s in there, he’s not alive. And the same must be true for Eddie.
DSI Appelgren cannot believe it. How the hell did they not have a clue that this was about to happen? Phone taps, bugged cars, surveillance in Khouri’s house. Ream upon ream of conversations. Everyone learns that ‘Nakno Emo’ means ‘Fuck your mother’ in Assyrian: it’s a phrase that litters the 200,000 odd phone conversations that they pick up, it’s a phrase that peppers talks in the suspects’ cars...
So when it all happens, Appelgren would be forgiven for screaming “Nakno Emo” himself.
That night, he’s at home when a county police high-alert SMS pings on his phone. He learns that Yaacoub and Dany Moussa have been shot.
Appelgren scrambles. By 4am he’s in Södertälje. As morning breaks, he’s assigned to head the investigation. But it’s not Dany who’s been killed. Not Dany the troublemaker, not Dany who already as a teenager was almost sent off to a monastery in Turkey by his devout mother so he’d get his act together.
It’s not Yaacoub and Dany who are dead, it’s Yaacoub and Eddie, and the wounds on the bodies are shocking.
Outside, Dany shows up at the crime scene howling his grief; police find drugs on him and use it as a pretence to haul him into remand. They want to make sure he doesn’t go on a rampage of revenge, but also keep him out of harm’s way if the killers intend to find him too.
Appelgren doesn’t enter the Oasis, he’s busy pulling in resources, but his colleague Mats Petterson is there and he’s filming the scene on his smart phone because a stray bullet has pierced a radiator at the back of the room next to Yaacoub’s body and the gushing water threatens to wipe out the evidence.
He starts with Eddie, because he is closest to the door: Eddie’s on his back by a knocked over sofa, his right leg contorted and tucked in under him as though he’s about to take a mighty penalty kick. A long nasty gash on top of the thigh shows where a ricocheting bullet has acted like a switchblade. Some of the stray bullets have torn up dust from the craters they leave in the floor; the dust has settled like a grey shroud over Eddie.
The choice to kill Eddie confuses Appelgren, just like it confuses a lot of his colleagues. Why would you take out the golden boy from the Assyriska football club? Why kill the boy whose physiotherapist described him as “dedicated to his career” despite an injury, a 26 year old who was known in the neighbourhood for his speed on the pitch and also notorious for a smudge of vanity? The boy who used to shave from top to toe before heading to the local beach, a habit that earned him the nickname the Zucchini – smooth all over.
As the police start to piece together the evidence, they realise the double homicide has been intricately planned: the suspected scouts, the timing (the gunmen arrived just as Yaacoub was about to leave), the knowledge of where the brothers were sitting (witnesses say the gunmen knew exactly where to go), the symbolic location (Yaacoub’s wife describes the Oasis as the brothers’ second home), the stolen mopeds waiting outside to ferry the assailants away. And finally, the raw violence (a hail of bullets from an AK47 in Eddie, the second gunman probably crouched over Yaacoub as he put the final round of bullets neatly into his throat).
Appelgren also believes that the gunmen knew their victims. Why else leave their faces intact? A shot to the head is always the most effective, but someone seems to have respected their victims enough to make sure the family could place them in an open casket.
“It’s degrading to fire that many shots into a body. It’s so obvious that you’re making a statement with this kind of murder. I mean, you can kill people in a hell of a lot tidier and more effective way than this and still get it done,” Appelgren said.
Across town, there’s shock. And it’s not just in Södertälje, Assyrians across the world are discussing the murders in online chat forums.
Eventually the day of the funeral comes. Mourners show up in droves, including the Bandidos. The growl of their bikes punctuates the otherwise silent cortege being led by a police motorcycle past the football arena – a final goodbye to the sport that Eddie and his brother so loved.
As the Bandidos dismount at the church, the sight of the burly men in black leather jars with the tiny boys from the Assyriska youth teams, all dressed up in the club strip. Police officers in riot gear stand by in the summer heat, a police helicopter circles above.
“I felt sorry for the family,” recalls one mourner. “The funeral became a spectacle.”
Eddie’s sister Alexandra, thirteen years his senior, used to take him to practice when he was just a little boy, taking the seven-minute walk from the flat to Bårsta together. Now she’s left picking up the pieces. The family has to sort through Eddie’s belongings.
”We found a diary where he made notes every day how far he’d run and what he had eaten. He had been really strict with his food and running,” she says. ”I think football was everything for him.”
She looks back to Eddie’s practices, how when she moved away from town it was mostly Yaacoub who took over and started to walk there with Eddie. Assyriska allowed Eddie to go so far that he’d been invited to a trial with Dynamo Kyiv and Alexandra herself took him to the Lebanese embassy to fill out papers for dual citizenship so he could join the national team there.
As she collects her thoughts and gets back to sorting out Eddie’s things, Alexandra and the family decide they need to find new homes for Eddie’s beloved Rottweilers, Aurora and Edgar.
“He didn’t have any hobbies outside football, apart from them, he used to enter them at dog shows,” she says.
The dogs stop eating. They keep returning to a bag Eddie left behind and sniffing it. They’ve become sad and desperate for affection, but they need new homes.
”They’re too big and mum isn’t used to dogs,” Alexandra explains. Aurora goes to live with the neighbours, Edgar finds a new home with family friends.
Alexandra’s mother eventually decides that she has to find a new allotment. The walk to the old one brings her straight past the Oasis where her boys died and she cannot face it.
As the Moussa family grieves, the police wrap up their investigation. It’s slow and arduous work, but Khouri, the suspected mastermind behind the killings, has started to go too far. Other victims have started to come forward. The evidence keeps mounting – extortion, threats, coercion, kidnapping, assault.
The investigation also digs up some dirt on Eddie, who, it turns out, could have easily killed one of Khouri’s associates in a frenzied attack with a kebab skewer after the first murder of Mohaned. The man who pried the two apart recalls the event calmly: ”When you stab someone like that, you don’t just want to injure, you want to kill.”
The witness, a stout former combatant during the Lebanese civil war, intervened because he realised that if the man fell to the ground, the protective vest he was wearing would be of no use. ”If you fall there’s no protection, because you can be stabbed in the throat, it [the vest] leaves the neck open.”
It also emerges that Yaacoub had started to wear a protective vest to Eddie’s games, despite the weight hurting his back, after hearing that someone had ordered a hit on him.
Eight months after the brothers’ deaths, with the help of the French police, the prosecutor’s arrest warrant for Khouri is executed at a Paris airport and he is extradited to Sweden. Later that year, in September 2011, the police pick up nearly a dozen of Khouri’s associates, ranging from his suspected lieutenant-in-arms Abraham Aho to a smattering of errand boys.
Once the case finally makes it to trial, the prosecutors claim that Eddie had started a rival money-lending operation, and that he had used Dany and the X-Team to get that money back when a certain type of persuasion was needed. Although that would fit the prosecutor’s argument that the murders were the end game in a turf war, Eddie’s sister Alexandra points out that she’s not seen a shred of evidence to support the claim.
The allegation also shocks Eddie’s former boss, Aydin Aho, who has by now risen from vice chair to club director at Assyriska. ”I don’t think it’s plausible to be able to combine the kind of life they say Eddie had with the life of an elite football player,” he tells the local newspaper Länstidningen. ”If the information is correct – and had we known about it – of course we would have acted on it. It states very clearly in our player contracts that we don’t accept criminal acts.”
In August 2013, the District Court finds Khouri guilty of ordering the three murders of Mohaned, Yaacoub and Eddie. The sentence is life in jail. He appeals but in autumn of 2014 the Appeals Court upholds the verdict and the sentence. The Supreme Court soon after declines to grant Khouri a final attempt at appeal.
The family isn’t satisfied with the sentencing. Many of the defendants have already completed their allotted jail time while detained in the run-up to the complicated and drawn-out trial.
While Khouri’s in for life, which rarely actually is life in Sweden, his lieutenant-in-arms, Aho, has got 12 years. Aho who in the end was not just jailed for Mohaned’s murder, but for his part in the double homicide.
”Aho could be out in four years’ time,” Alexandra says with disgust. ”He’ll be out soon; I’ve lost two brothers… And I hope Khouri doesn’t get out in 18 years’ time. The sentences are ridiculous, it makes no sense, the justice system is so sick here.”
“In Lebanon, every single one who could be tied to the murders would have got life, they’d never be let out. That would have been justice.”
Five years almost to the day after the murders, Eddie’s fan Conny meets me at a railway station in a nondescript Stockholm suburb – two tracks for the commuter trains, two for the national railways. The latter don’t stop, people rarely do get off here unless they’re going to the nearby hospital or to the southern Stockholm district court.
Conny isn’t really stopping either: he’s off to England to see if he can find work as an assistant coach. Despite the time that has passed, he remembers how he felt upon news that Eddie had died.
“I just remember how sad everyone was. People really believed that he’d go very far. You were basically waiting for a foreign club to buy him. You pinned a lot of hope on him as a player, especially as a lover of Assyriska.”
“That the [murder] became such a big deal was because he was a football player, but I’m sure similar things have happened to many Assyrian families in Södertälje. It would have never become such a big thing if it hadn’t been Eddie Moussa.”
The brutality of the murder didn’t really shock Conny. “You always knew that things happened down there in Södertälje. You’ve heard a lot, you’ve seen a lot. [Some people say] they’re like Neanderthals who resolve conflict with violence. And there’s this prestige, there’s no forgiveness. If you wrong me, I’ll kill you. And sometimes that’s not enough: I will kill you and your entire family.”
In June 2015, the state agency tasked with regulating payments to the victims of crime decides that Eddie’s family will not receive damages for his and his brother’s deaths.
It references the district court verdict’s description of the turf war: ”Eddie and Dany collected debts with violence and threats of violence. Yaacoub ran the Oasis, where it is considered highly likely that illegal gambling took place,” the document summarises.
Somewhat simplified, Swedish law limits payments to victims of crime who have knowingly put themselves at risk. The agency’s decision is succinct: “The Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority considers it highly likely that the crimes had their origin in criminal activity. By entering into that type of activity, they subjected themselves to a higher risk of being hurt.”
Alexandra is furious.
”Not even mum gets money,” she says. ”And it’s not about the money, it’s about principle. We lost the ones we love the most… It’s a slap in the face.”
”The Turf War” is an extract from the book project ”Altaville: The Home of Sweden’s New Christian Mafia” by the Anglo-Swedish journalist Ann Törnkvist.