07 May 2006

Cop raid bid to stifle UDA feud

Sunday Life

Ciaran McGuigan
07 May 2006

COPS fearing the explosion of another bloody loyalist feud last week turned over the homes of the closest allies of the UDA's north Belfast leadership.

The home of leading UDA man Alan McClean was one of the houses searched last Thursday as tensions within the loyalist group continue to simmer.

McClean - one of Andre and Ihab Shoukri's closet supporters - is expected to be fingered in an internal UDA probe into the two brothers' activities this week.

Different factions within the UDA are at loggerheads over the activities of the Shoukri brothers - including the revelation that Andre has gambled away over £800,000 in just two years at a local bookies' shop.

One attempt to force the Shoukri brothers from the UDA has already failed and resulted in a number of other senior members being booted out of the organisation.

However, the UDA's so-called 'inner council' is this week expected to hear leading north Belfast businessmen tell how they have been forced to hand over large sums of cash to the Shoukris.

And members of the organisation fear another attempt to force the north Belfast leadership to back down could result in a bloody split.

One senior loyalist source told Sunday Life: "We have received information that the Shoukri gang is tooled up and is planning to move, and the police have obviously heard the same thing and that's why they have turned over McClean's house.

"By the middle of next week, the issue of the Shoukris will have come to a head when the UDA's internal inquiry goes ahead.

"They will then have to explain where all this money has gone."

A police spokesman confirmed that two houses in the Westland Road area had been searched, but nothing was found. No arrests were made.

The second house searched is understood to belong to a former LVF man originally from the Ballysillan area who has joined forces with McLean and the Shoukris.

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