Page last updated at 11:02 GMT, Sunday, 23 November 2008

Senior loyalist Ihab Shoukri dies

Ihab Shoukri
Ihab Shoukri admitted UDA membership

Leading north Belfast loyalist Ihab Shoukri has died.

The 34-year-old died in Newtownabbey on Saturday night. Police are not treating it as suspicious - it is believed he died of a drug overdose.

Shoukri, 34, originally from the Westland estate, was jailed for 15 months in June after admitting being a member of the UDA and supporting it.

He was released in a matter of weeks because of the amount of time he had spent in prison while awaiting trial.

He had been arrested along with a number of other men at a north Belfast bar where a UDA "show of strength" was being planned.

Ihab Shoukri and his brother Andre were expelled from the UDA two years ago after setting up a breakaway faction in south east Antrim.

The faction had been accused of involvement in widespread criminality, including drug dealing.

Ihab Shoukri took over leadership of the group in November last year after his brother was jailed for nine years on charges including blackmail and intimidation.

The sons of an Egyptian father who married a local woman, both brothers rose through the ranks of the UDA in north Belfast before their expulsion.

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