- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 1, 2002

BELFAST Northern Ireland's endangered peace agreement has come under new pressure as a result of a feud among Protestant paramilitary groups that has left one leader dead and another with bullet holes in his face.
Last week, the largest Protestant paramilitary group, the Ulster Defense Association, expelled the leader of its Shankhill Road brigade, Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair.
In response, the Red Hand Defenders, a group closely connected with Mr. Adair, issued a statement threatening to kill the five remaining leaders of the UDA.
Mr. Adair's defiance of the expulsion order makes him a prime target for his former colleagues.
"There has to be a little bloodletting," said one UDA leader over the weekend. Graffiti in East Belfast is more explicit: "Johnny Adair, you are the weakest link, goodbye."
It's only 10 days since the UDA's East Belfast "brigadier," Jim Gray, was shot twice in the face by friends of Mr. Adair. When Mr. Adair refused to sanction an armed response to the attack, he was expelled from the UDA and placed at the top of their hit list.
But Mr. Adair is notoriously hard to kill.
The last time he was involved in an internal feud with Protestant paramilitary groups, 20 persons were left dead but Mr. Adair wasn't one of them. And in 1993 the IRA killed 10 persons with a bomb attack on the Shankhill Road in a failed attempt to assassinate Mr. Adair.
Once one of the UDA's most ruthless gunmen, Mr. Adair's command of the Shankhill Road brigade in West Belfast has seen the organization's body count soar. They are the most feared unit of the UDA.
Mr. Adair's defiant stance therefore represents a major threat to the remaining leaders. Most people are expecting a blood bath. Some leading Protestants have already left their homes and headed for secret locations.
On Friday, Hugh Orde, Northern Ireland's police commissioner, went to his Policing Board to plead for more resources to tackle the worsening violence. As he spoke to the board, a man in East Belfast was shot in the back in what many believe to be the first attack in the new UDA feud.

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