Category: Archive

Whats at Stakeknife?

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Reports now have it that his real name is Alfredo Scappaticci, who for years was involved in the section of the IRA intelligence wing that was responsible for hunting out informers, screening recruits and debriefing volunteers who had been arrested and questioned by the police. Scappaticci, a life-long republican from Belfast, is denying it all. But in the meantime the story has spread. The same allegations are repeated in all the reports — he set up his own volunteers and arranged for the removal of those who his handlers wanted removed.
There is a remarkable uniformity to all the reports, and none of them cite sources for the principal allegations. Suspicions are that a disgruntled member of the shadowy Force Research Unit, an undercover British army unit that specializes in placing agents into paramilitary groups, was responsible for leaking the name. For some time now, former agents of FRU have been offering their stories to all and sundry, complaining about how the British government let them down after years of dedicated service. In revenge, one of them threatened to out Stakeknife.
FRU has long been linked to the murder of Belfast lawyer Patrick Finucane. One of its agents was Brian Nelson, the Ulster Defense Association activist who helped set up Finucane. In such muddy waters as these, it is indeed hard to discern the clear outlines of anything. But the impression is that Walter Mitty types are attracted to the undercover murk. Such people are not reliable and their allegations should be treated with caution.
There is no doubt, however, that during the dark days of the conflict, the British security forces were actively recruiting informers in all the paramilitary groups, but chiefly in the IRA, which they saw as their most dangerous and principal enemy. As the violence raged, all sides took this for granted. Intelligence was indispensable in fighting the undercover war. Unfortunately, it seems that the authorities at times valued it more than respect for the very law and order that they were claiming to defend. Similar allegations are being made against the handlers of Stakeknife as against those of Brian Nelson — that they were prepared to allow crimes to be committed rather than compromise their agent.
This is the nightmare world from which Northern Ireland is beginning to emerge. It is a timely reminder of what is at stake as all sides seek to secure the peace process.

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