Andre Shoukri is being kept in solitary confinement at Maghaberry Prison amid fears of a plot to kill him in jail.
The north Belfast Loyalist survived an attack with a pool cue in the prison’s Bush House last week when he was in his cell.
Friends say the incident comes after three weeks of messages and threats to his family warning that he was going to be killed.
“Someone has been sending text messages to a relative claiming that one UDA brigade is going to attack him. They’re pretending to be a supporter of Andre who is trying to warn him about a threat from people who are actually his friends.
“It isn’t difficult to figure out who is behind this, it’s the same two or three in the UDA in north Belfast who are terrified that Andre is getting out soon,” one close friend said.
A member of the Shoukri family is understood to have been in touch with the Northern Ireland Office to ask if the altercation inside Maghaberry will harm his opportunity to earn parole leave from next month.
It’s understood an official said it would have no bearing on his position and his solicitor has been told that he will be kept under Rule 32 supervision for seven days.
Prison officers say that Shoukri is in the segregation unit in Maghaberry.
“There is a bit of concern that there is something more sinister to this incident even though the attack on Shoukri looks a bit half-hearted,” one officer said.
“He was hardly marked by the pool cue and the attacker couldn’t stand with him when he turned round.”