Top double agent in IRA guilty of 'up to 40 murders'
THE agent known as "Stakeknife," was named yesterday as Alfredo "Freddie" Scappaticci.
For almost 30 years the man whom the IRA believed was one of their own, was paid a stg£80,000 salary by the Force Research Unit, the top secret intelligence section of the British Army.
The highest placed British double agent within the IRA, who served as head of their own Internal Security Unit, was allowed by his British handlers to kill with impunity both North and South of the border in order to protect his position within the terrorist organisation.
Now in his late 60s, it is alleged that the double agent, a former bricklayer, was allowed to carry out between 20 and 40 murders, including that of Co Louth farmer Tom Oliver in 1991.
As a key player within the IRA Internal Security unit, Stakeknife took part in the kidnapping, interrogation, torture and execution of many suspected informers, and it is alleged that he murdered agents working for the Gardai.
The "turning" of a young Stakeknife came after he had received a brutal beating from Belfast Provisionals. In a revenge move, the brickie calmly walked in to a British Army office and offered his services as an agent for the Crown.
And as he began his double life, the agent rapidly rose through the ranks of the IRA to become head of security within the organisation.
Known as "the Nutting Squad", the security section of the IRA vetted every volunteer and also interrogated suspected informers.
Stakeknife was involved in planning many terrorist assassinations and he was also the man whom the IRA trusted to hunt down and kill any British agents who had infiltrated the Provisionals.
He was known as "the fixer" by his handlers who relied on him to get rid of agents who had passed their sell-by date or IRA members who needed "to be taken care of".
It is believed that he also passed vital information to the British about IRA operations in mainland Europe which had targeted specific British Army installations.
Stakeknife was paid for his services with money lodged to a bank account in Gibraltar, a location which featured in 1988 when he provided the British Security Services with the information which led to the killing of three IRA active service volunteers by the SAS in Gibraltar, sparking one of the worst periods of violence in the North.
He was regarded as the top informer amongst British agents in Ireland and his intelligence reports were read at Cabinet. He had first volunteered to work for the British Army in the 1970s, and was run by the Force Research Unit, the same intelligence organisation which is at the centre of the Stevens inquiry.
Time was running out for the double agent ever since Sir John Stevens, the commissioner of the Metropolitan police said that he intended to question him on alleged collusion by the security forces into paramilitary killings. The inquiry team is anxious to question him about allegations that other informers had been sacrificed to protect his position. He had been advised to move to the Republic by his handlers so that he would be out of the jurisdiction of the Stevens Inquiry.
His handlers are said to be furious with the Stevens Inquiry for putting their agent in jeopardy and claim that he was responsible for saving more lives than he ever cost.
Two murders which the Stevens Inquiry team are anxious to question Stakeknife about are the 1989 killing of Joseph Fenton, an estate agent and informer who was murdered by the IRA's internal security section and that of Belfast pensioner Franscisco Notorantonio, an IRA veteran was killed by the UDA in 1987 - it is believed that his name was given to the UDA as a substitute for Stakeknife.
According to a report in the Sunday Tribune, Scappaticci had to be hurriedly transferred to a safe location in the UK after his identity was revealed on the internet. The revelation that one of the IRA's most feared operators was a double agent is said to have devastated the Republican movement.