Former London UDA boss Frank Portinari said he was "disgusted" that Michael Stone had been "disowned" after carrying out his Milltown Cemetery attack in 1988.
Armed with hand grenades and a gun, Stone killed three people at an IRA funeral and Portinari claimed the loyalist became a "sacrificial lamb" in the peace process.
He said: "I've got a lot of time for Michael. When Michael did what he did in the cemetery, I was disgusted not with what he done, I was disgusted because a lot of people deserted him.
"They shied away from him, they'd said it basically hadn't been okayed, for want of a better way of putting it, because politics was going on, talks were going on, it upset the apple cart.
"And some people were trying to move away from that militant position, I get that, but he suddenly became the sacrificial lamb.
"But also a lot of people knew that once he'd done that, there was going to be a big comeback. A massive comeback.
"So if you was one of the top boys, for want of a better way of putting it, you must have been laying in your bed every night thinking, 'F*** this, are the Provies coming through the door tonight? Tomorrow night? Next time I get in my car is it going to blow up?'
"A lot of people deserted him. All of a sudden people disowned him and I didn't agree with that, and I certainly didn't disown him, that's for sure."