For once, Shoukri’s not walking like an Egyptian…

FAREWELL then, and good riddance, to ex-UDA uber-spide, former house burglar, drug dealer, thug, gunman, terrorist, blackmailer, thief, gambling addict, extortionist, intimidator… and former loyalist political negotiator Andre Shoukri. Perhaps more than anyone, Shoukri – who was in UDA/UPRG delegations that met with two secretaries of state and the Irish President’s husband – embodied how the Two Governments’ strategy of inclusion could fall flat on its face and put innocent lives at risk. When Shoukri was sentenced to six years in jail after being caught in possession of a loaded gun, he appealed and the sentence was reduced to just two.

If he hadn’t been released early in early 2004, Shoukri would not have been able to go on to feed his gambling habit – the Irish News reported that within two months he managed to weasel £20,000 from Martin McAleese’s business associates for a ‘community project’.

In the same month as he was hob-nobbing with the Irish President’s other half, June 2004, he was, according to Mr Justice Treacy last week, blackmailing the owner of a north Belfast bar, which he effectively took over after an initial demand of £1,000 ‘protection money’.

Months later European Union funding for a UDA prisoners’ project in north Belfast was frozen after the discovery of financial irregularities, including the disappearance of £10,000. As his debts spiralled even further, Shoukri stole £10,000 from a boxing match, organised to raise funds for cancer charities. The public outcry forced him into paying the money back.

In November a Belfast city centre club was shut down after police revealed that Shoukri had tried to seize control of the club by threatening to kill the owner. Over the exact same period in 2004, Shoukri was part of a political delegation meeting Secretary of State Paul Murphy, who – a week later and presumably armed with this knowledge – officially recognised the UDA’s ‘ceasefire’ in a bid to move the peace process forward.

In the months that followed, Shoukri was able to, according to the judge, continue to receive the bar’s ‘protection money’ on a regular basis and steal food, alcohol and the contents of the gambling machines.

And when, in May 2005, there was no profit to hand over, a gun was put to the head of the bar owner’s partner, who was forced to borrow £4,000 from family and friends and hand over the books and keys to the bar. At the end of their tether, the couple brought in the police, whose undercover operation led to Shoukri’s jailing.

The couple were put in a witness protection programme, but unbelievably, had to be moved twice after it was suspected that the UDA gang had somehow managed to get its hands on details of their secret location. How isn’t clear.

In the meantime, a desperate Shoukri had, according to the Irish News, ordered his UDA men to carry out a series of botched robberies and kidnappings, although police successes meant that between 2005/2006 more than 25 north Belfast UDA members were behind bars on extortion and kidnapping charges.

In November 2005 Shoukri and Boreland were secretly recorded attempting to extort thousands of pounds from the manageress of the bar in north Belfast. In January 2006 the Irish News revealed that Shoukri had gambled away more than £800,000 in the two years since his release from prison. It reported: “By then he had become an increasing embarrassment to the UDA, which had come under pressure from the British government to end involvement in criminality.” Yet the UDA and its gangsters had been mollycoddled by the Government for years by this stage, while the public continued to suffer. This policy is still going.

In May 2006 the UDA finally expelled Andre, his brother Ihab and their associate Alan McClean, leading to a split and feud – the consequences of which are still being felt today. It was perhaps the arrests the previous November that prompted this cutting loose of this section of the UDA’s unreconstructable hardline criminal element, isolating them totally.

In May this year, the Irish News correctly predicted that a deal had been done – Shoukri would plead guilty in exchange for a nine year sentence that would ensure details of his £860,000 gambling habit with money ’embezzled’ from the UDA would not become public.

When the PSNI said last week after Shoukri and his associates were jailed that they “thought they were above the law”, he was right, since they clearly enjoyed a measure of political protection. “You could say they thought they were untouchable. The fact is they were not,” he said.

With time served on remand, Andre Shoukri is expected to be released in less than two years.

  • Now we can fully expect the so called “good” UDA to heap all the blame for everything on the Shoukri’s, Frankie Gallagher very strongly implied that the Tigers Bay situation was their fault, very shrewd for a loyalist. Still nice to know there is one less scum bag walking the streets.

  • picador

    I wonder what else has been hushed up as a result of this deal

  • The Dubliner

    The ‘good’ parasite from the UDA inflicted financial ruin on a struggling businessman from his own community by exhorting money from him by threatening to murder him if he didn’t pay up, while all the time masquerading as a ‘community worker’ in a dismal and grotesque charade organised in conspiracy with the state and it senior representatives.

    Now the former struggling businessman and his wife, duly financially ruined, live their lives in fear of retaliation knowing that this sociopath, who the state conferred legitimacy upon, will back on the streets in less than two years. It is hardly surprising that they took so long to inform the police of what the UDA were doing to them when they saw the state treating these parasites as statesmen who were deemed so respectable by the state that they were invited to Áras an Uachtaráin for social occasions and invited to play golf with the husband of the president of the Irish Republic. And deemed to have such an important role as ‘social workers’ that millions of pounds were donated to ‘projects’ to which they gave their blessing.

    Will the Irish President now apologise for abusing her office to confer respectability upon organised criminals? Will her husband now use his money-raising skills to compensate the terrified couple for the loss they suffered at the hands of those he tried to make respectable? Will they question the morality of lending support to a de facto government policy of turning a blind eye to organised crime, knowing that the blind eye, once turned, must stay turned lest they be forced to acknowledge what they allowed to happen? No, they lack the integrity to admit to themselves and to others that they did the wrong thing.

  • heck

    “The couple were put in a witness protection programme, but unbelievably, had to be moved twice after it was suspected that the UDA gang had somehow managed to get its hands on details of their secret location. How isn’t clear.”

    Is it not clear to you Belfast Gonzo?

  • Pete Baker

    Gonzo

    “When the PSNI said last week after Shoukri and his associates were jailed that they “thought they were above the law”, he was right, since they clearly enjoyed a measure of political protection. “You could say they thought they were untouchable. The fact is they were not,” he said.”

    And that political protection was evidenced in, by the PSNI’s own admission, how the police treated them..

    As noted here

    [Detective Superintendent Essie] Adair said that although witnesses were reluctant to come forward, putting pressure on those with influence in loyalism might [be] the most effective method of dealing with extortion.

    He said he was prepared to have face-to-face meetings with those suspected of involvement in organised crime.

    “We work through the local district command unit to talk to those who have influence,” Mr Adair said.

    “We have always worked like that.

    “We have done that since I took this job on and we will continue to do it because at the end of the day police cannot deal with this problem alone.

    “I will speak to them to try and get an end to this. It is no longer an acceptable part of Northern Ireland society. People should not have to pay for the privilege of working.

    “I truly accept the public’s concern but if it stops it then it has to be worth it.”

    Until the ‘good’ UDA decided otherwise, that is..

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Well I could guess, but I wouldn’t know for sure.

  • Alan partridge

    Blew £800,000 grand in two years!

    He’s the worlds worst gambler, ever.

  • The Dubliner

    “I truly accept the public’s concern but if it stops it then it has to be worth it.” – Detective Superintendent Essie Adair

    Is he a politician or a police officer? What happened to the traditional role of a police force of protecting public and ensuring social order by enforcing the law, i.e. arresting those who break it?

    Applying his appeasement rationale, he should have opened an account Shoukri at Paddy Power bookmakers and deposited a million into it. Indeed, why not simply give free DVD recorders, TVs, and jewellery to burglars as a means to deterring them from breaking into houses using the same rationale?

  • Dec

    “The couple were put in a witness protection programme, but unbelievably, had to be moved twice after it was suspected that the UDA gang had somehow managed to get its hands on details of their secret location. How isn’t clear.”

    Not the first time witnesses against Shoukri were let down by police. Take the case of Mel Lundy, who after being the victim of an extortion by Shoukri, agreed to testify against him only after being assured by the police that they (Shoukri & his cohorts) were not members of the UDA. The next time police contacted Mr Lundy, was to inform him of a threat against his life emanating from…the UDA. Mr Lundy and family are still in hiding…

  • Rory

    What a nasty man. And what a short sentence imposed to act as punishment and, more importantly, as deterrent. Cripes! he should have got more just for the derisory insult of calling his Teddy Bear with a name beginning with “M” – McAleese!

    Still and all, for the next two years at least (unless he shares a cell with Michael Stone) he will have none but his Teddy for a bedfellow.

  • The Dubliner

    Dec, people in witness protection programs often compromise their own security by contacting friends and family by means other than those that are sanctioned, so there are other possibilities other than collusion – even if collusion is a reasonable suspicion given the history of the close relationship between murder gangs and the security services.

  • Burger me

    Dubliner,
    In post number 3, I do believe you have written the longest sentence I have ever read on Slugger!

    With refrence to your comments on collusion, source handling, state protection etc etc etc. I’m glad you live in a world so starkly cast in shades of black and white. What D/S Adair is referring to is called working in “the real world”. Thats were criminals aren’t often to be found tip-toeing down alleys carrying bags marked “SWAG”. To spot criminals you need to be talking to those with what he calls influence in the community.

    I think the attacks on the Police here are nothing more than the usual mantra drummed out whilst knowing little of the workings of the subject matter. No offence intended. You will find far more wanting in the judiciary, the wig wearing elitist tossers who defend and pass sentence on these scum. Shoukri should never be allowed to walk the streets again.

    Skoukri will be back, make no mistake about it.

  • The Dubliner

    In regard the length of the sentence: Billy Pilgrim made great play about discovering a sentence of mine that was several times longer. I tend to the view that posts are not essays, so I rarely edit.

    In regard to your second paragraph, I refer you to the link that Pete Baker posted above for the actual context. You should also pay closer attention to Detective Superintendent Essie Adair remarks:

    “I will speak to them to try and get an end to this. It is no longer an acceptable part of Northern Ireland society.”

    Organised crime was “an acceptable part of Northern Ireland society” to whom exactly? Hence the question: “Is he a politician or a police officer?” He should also note that the role of the police is not to act as a mediation service between the public and organised crime gangs.

  • Burger me

    Dubliner,

    I see your point however I don’t think you see the spirit of what Adair is referring to. I doubt very much the detective super was implying that organised crime (for private profit)was once an acceptable part of NI society. I would imagine he was making refrence to the organised paramilitary groups on both sides which were, without doubt, a once tolerated if not accepted part of our society. There is an important distinction as many members of the public, like it or not, saw a legitimate role for these organisations. What I believe he refers to is that that function is now moribund, they have no purpose in modern society.

    As for him being a politician or policeman, since when did commenting on social change make you a politician? Since when were Police officers forbidden from making comment on important social issues? I personally would like to hear more from senior Police officers regarding their attitudes and actions on matters the public are concerned about.

    Finally, to say…

    “He should also note that the role of the police is not to act as a mediation service between the public and organised crime gangs.”

    …is a wonderfully objective observation, you should contact Police HQ tomorrow and let them know. Despite what you say the Police deal with these people and the community representatives day in, day out. I would expect them to use all avenues of influence at their disposal to end this type of crime, including mediation!

  • The Dubliner

    Burger me, if you don’t already work for the PR department of the PSNI, you missed your vocation. I haven’t read spin that fine since PJ Mara worked for Fianna Fáil

  • Bunter

    -800K What a fecking looser?? how in the world did he get away with this? Was’nt Her Majesty tax men watching along with MI5 and SB?? Sounds like he could’nt pick his nose?? At least now he’ll have lots of time to practice. What a sad state the Loyalist Paramilitary’s were/are in.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Andre Shoukri was an embarrassment to the UDA. It wouldn’t be accurate to say that was always the case though. I have quite a few mates from and/or living in North Belfast and they all said they thought it was a good thing when Shoukri took over at the beginning, even the ones who wouldn’t have anything to do with paramiltaries.
    Unfortunately things have changed though and the Shoukris, McClean etc were more interested in lining their pockets than defending the people of North Belfast…SHAME ON THEM

  • Billy

    Concerned Loyalist

    “defending the people of North Belfast”

    The UDA/UVF weren’t interested in defending anyone. They were interested in murdering any easy target Catholic they could while lining their own pockets via extortion, drug dealing, prostitution etc.

    It was usually the hard working people and businessmen in “loyalist” areas that had to pay out protection money to these vermin. It is the kids in “loyalist” areas that they sell drugs to.

    Don’t delude yourself that they give a s**t about the people in “loyalist” areas, they don’t and they never did.

  • The Dubliner

    In fairness, Shoukri is a non-sectarian parasite: he doesn’t care which community he extorts money from:

    [i]”Shoukri and three others, including his older brother Ihab, had demanded £3,000 pounds ‘protection’ money from a Catholic businessman’s pizza shop on the Cavehill Road. The funds were intended for the Ballysillan UDA. All four were convicted of the charges, with Shoukri receiving a three-year sentence.”[/i]

  • Dec

    Dubliner

    I fail to see the relevance of your remarks about witnesses compromising their own security in relation to my comments about businessman Mel Lundy (the subject of your last post). To repeat, Mr Lundy was assured by police that the men who tried to extort money from him (Shoukri and Boreland) were not members of the UDA so he agreed to co-operate with police and the resulting ‘sting’ operation. Days after their (Shoukri et al) arrest, Mr Lundy received a death threat from the UDA.
    As to your non-sectarian parasite remarks, Mr Lundy’s business was on the Cavehill Road in North Belfast, next to the Westlands estate. Location, location, location.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Concerned Loyalist: “Andre Shoukri was an embarrassment to the UDA.”

    Let’s meditate on this one for half a mo’… just how bad does something have to be to put a collection of drug dealers a extortionists off their feed?

    Concerned Loyalist: “It wouldn’t be accurate to say that was always the case though.”

    Yeah… Shoukri was just “one of the boys” until he got caught.

    Concerned Loyalist: “I have quite a few mates from and/or living in North Belfast and they all said they thought it was a good thing when Shoukri took over at the beginning, even the ones who wouldn’t have anything to do with paramiltaries.”

    One wonders how the fellow travellers in Combat 18 took his elevation, tho…

    As for the rest, no doubt they were heartened by the possibility of a “diversity hire” making it all the way to senior management in the local firm.

    Concerned Loyalist: “Unfortunately things have changed though and the Shoukris, McClean etc were more interested in lining their pockets than defending the people of North Belfast.”

    Riiiiiiight.

    The UDA as a whole has 115 identifiable kills to their record, of which TWO are republican paramilitaries. This contrasts to 29 Loyalists, of which 22 where UDA members.

    The UDA may have a number of interests, including extortion and other rackets, but defending the people of North Belfast (or anywhere else) was particularly high on their list.

  • Sam Hanna

    Why is Slugger referring to Mr Shoukri in a racist manner?

  • The Dubliner

    Dec, mea culpa.

  • Burger me

    Dubliner,
    Reading over my posts I may have to concede my seemingly pro-Police attitude (is that something to be ashamed of?)but must assure you I am certainly not a PR merchant for said organisation!

    Merely trying to highlight the seemingly narrow perspective you apply to the coppers comments and the position he is in. I just don’t think you are being fair to his comments and role.

    I think “concerned loyalist[s]” posts show a great deal about the communities that produce these type of high profile criminals. The fact of the matter is that the communities are so socially deprived and so intrinsically linked to paramilitary thinking and structure that it is an everyday part of their lives. Communities fermented by the troubles developed their own hierarchy and social structure. Shoukri is as much a victim of his environment as he is a genuinely evil criminal.

    The “Brigadier of bling” himself one famously quoted “I’m not a loyalist, I’m a fucking business man”. Albeit he saw extortion et al as legitimate “businesses”. They are accepted, feared and those in the lofty heights of command have their own cult of personality to think about. Power corrupts, and these weak willed men allow their egos to rule their actions at the expense of the communities and genuine businesses. Hence I believe, quotes like:
    “…they thought it was a good thing when Shoukri took over at the beginning, even the ones who wouldn’t have anything to do with paramiltaries.” When a community takes that attitude, what else to do but talk to them when you attempt to isolate and bring down someone like Shoukri? To take any other attitude, Totalitarian or otherwise is simply denying the obvious truth.

    The Police (here I go again) were doing their job, as pointed out above;
    “…police successes meant that between 2005/2006 more than 25 north Belfast UDA members were behind bars on extortion and kidnapping charges.”

    We can blame no one but the judiciary for the pathetically lenient sentences, allowing these men to continue their actions.

  • [i]Why is Slugger referring to Mr Shoukri in a racist manner?
    Posted by Sam Hanna on Dec 04, 2007 @ 06:57 PM[/i]

    Nicknames are racist? Personally I thought it quite witty.

    In relation to CL, first of all are you still here? I thought you’d had a hissy fit and left, again. Secondly what exactly do the UDA defend these days? The PIRA disarmed and not even the RIRA are attacking loyalist communities, attacking cops is more their style something they have in common with loyalists. Defence of communities is the responsibility of the police, not a bunch of drug dealing parasites who poison their community with drugs and bleed them of their money.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    burger me: “I think “concerned loyalist[s]” posts show a great deal about the communities that produce these type of high profile criminals. The fact of the matter is that the communities are so socially deprived and so intrinsically linked to paramilitary thinking and structure that it is an everyday part of their lives.”

    Not sure I buy this one — if they were so linked, why the political failure of the UDA? If the Loyalist neighborhoods were so beholden to the Loyalist mobsters, why shun them at the polls? This is no symbiotic relationship — the UDA is purely parasitic.