Northern Ireland's major Protestant paramilitary group on Tuesday threatened members of a rebel unit with death if they did not reject their notorious commander, Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair.

The Ulster Defense Association issued its threat following Saturday's killing of a senior UDA commander, John Gregg.

Police and politicians blamed Adair's unit. The Red Hand Defenders, a name deployed by Adair's unit when claiming responsibility for attacks on Catholics, said it was behind the ambush.

Adair was ousted from the UDA last year after Gregg accused him of conspiring with other Protestant gangs in drug deals and attacks on other UDA members.

On Tuesday, UDA commanders warned any followers of Adair to join mainline UDA companies by the end of Gregg's funeral on Thursday.

After the deadline, the UDA commanders warned, Adair followers would be "treated the same as the enemies of Ulster," referring to the UDA's record of killing more than 300 Catholics since 1971.

Northern Ireland police said they have assigned 70 detectives to track top UDA members and ward off revenge attacks.

Adair appears to be in little danger. Britain has ordered him jailed into 2005 for his role in deadly feuds within the UDA and with other outlawed Protestant groups.

Two men were arrested Sunday on suspicion of involvement in Gregg's murder but were released Monday with no charges filed.