Freddie Scappaticci, 72, widely named as the notorious IRA agent Stakeknife
He is thought to have overseen terror group’s ‘nutting squad’ spy hunting unit
Arrested as part of £35m Operation Kenova, which was launched in June 2016
The man widely named as the British Army’s notorious IRA agent Stakeknife, a shadowy figure accused of involvement in dozens of murders, kidnappings and beatings, has today been arrested by police.
Freddie Scappaticci, 72, from west Belfast, is alleged to have been the most high-ranking British agent within the Provisional IRA who headed the terror group’s brutal spy catching unit known as ‘the nutting squad’.
Operation Kenova was launched in June 2016 with a budget of £35m to investigate 50 murders allegedly linked to Stakeknife and officers today confirmed they had arrested a 72-year-old man who they are holding at a secret location.
Freddie Scappaticci, 72, (pictured in 2003) from west Belfast, is alleged to have been the most high-ranking British agent within the Provisional IRA. He has admitted to being a republican in the past but denied he was linked to the terror group
Mr Scappaticci (pictured in 1974) was being investigated by officers from Operation Kenova
Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher is leading a team of 48 detectives probing more than 1,500 lines of enquiry relating to the agent, who was described by one Army general as the ‘jewel in the crown’ among IRA infiltrators controlled by the British authorities.
In 2003 Stakeknife was widely named as west Belfast man Scappaticci, who appeared briefly at his solicitor’s offices to deny the claim before vanishing, most likely into a witness protection scheme in Britain.
Scappaticci, the grandson of an Italian immigrant who came to Northern Ireland looking for work, was reportedly last seen at his 98-year-old father’s funeral in west Belfast in 2017, where witnesses said he looked healthy and relaxed.
The agent codenamed Stakeknife is said to have reported directly to the late Martin McGuiness in the 1980s and 90s while he served as the IRA’s northern commander, according to The Guardian.
Scappaticci timeline: From ‘hunter’ to hunted
1971 – 74: Interned for alleged involvement with the IRA
1978: Volunteered as an informer for the British
1980: Cemented himself as a lead member of the nutting squad
2003: Left Northern Ireland after he was named as Stakeknife in the press
2016: Operation Kenova launched in July to investigate claims of murders and torture dating back to the 1970s
2017: Linked to 18 murders in a BBC Panorama documentary aired in April
A military intelligence officer said the relationship between Stakeknife and the ex-Northern Ireland first minister was similar to that between an ‘operation manager’ and ‘managing director’ in terms of unmasking spies and deciding on their fate.
Since Scappaticci was identified as Stakeknife in the press, he has faced numerous claims in the civil courts by families of his alleged victims, leading to police launching a bid to have legal action put on hold for two years while they continue their investigation.
Families of IRA men murdered by the nutting squad accuse the British authorities of sacrificing their loved ones in order to preserve their agent’s cover. Meanwhile, a number of families on the Loyalist side believe was responsible for planning their relatives’ deaths.
A statement from the police investigation said: ‘Officers from Operation Kenova have today arrested a 72-year-old man in connection with the investigation into allegations of murder, kidnap and torture.
‘The man has been arrested on suspicion of a number of offences which are being investigated by Operation Kenova.’
Stakeknife is thought to have reported directly to the late Martin McGuiness in the 1980s and 90s while he served as the IRA’s northern commander. McGuinness is pictured in July 1984
The independent team of detectives began investigating after the former director of public prosecutions in Northern Ireland, Barra McGrory QC, referred multiple allegations to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
The PSNI decided to call in external help from officers outside Northern Ireland.
The investigation update added: ‘Operation Kenova is a complex and wide-ranging investigation which was launched in June 2016 to investigate allegations of murder, kidnap and torture dating back to the 1970s.
‘So far the team has engaged with more than 40 families and processed more than 500,000 pages of information generating 1,500 lines of inquiry.’
As well as multiple murders, the investigation team is examining evidence of other alleged offences committed by Stakeknife during the Troubles, including attempted murders and unlawful imprisonments.
Scappaticci, circled, at a funeral where Gerry Adams, far right wearing glasses, carried the coffin
A number of Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland investigators are understood to be present following the arrest.
The independent Ombudsman investigates current and former police action in Northern Ireland.
Anyone with any information relating to Operation Kenova can contact the team by calling 01234 858298 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
What is Operation Kenova? How three police forces came together to investigate ‘kidnap, torture and more than 50 murders’ by the IRA
Operation Kenova is investigating former IRA security chief Freddie Scappaticci who was head of the organisation’s internal security branch, known as the ‘Nutting Squad’, during the 1970s and 80s.
The operation was launched in June 2016 to investigate allegations of murder, kidnap and torture dating back to the 1970s.
Scappaticci was arrested and is being held in an undisclosed location.
Mr Scappaticci (pictured) is the man alleged to be the British Army’s notorious IRA agent Stakeknife
The probe is being led by Chief Constable Jon Boutcher from Bedfordshire Police.
Scappaticci has been named previously as a British agent, known by the code name Stakeknife.
Operation Kenova has been investigating crimes alleged to have been commissioned by Stakeknife and whether there is evidence of criminal offences committed by the British Army, Security Services or other ‘government personnel’.
The Nutting Squad were responsible for discipline within the IRA and finding British agents within the organisation.
According to the investigation: ‘ So far the team has engaged with more than 40 families and processed more than 500,000 pages of information generating 1,500 lines of inquiry.
‘Anyone with any information relating to Operation Kenova can contact the team by calling 01234 858298 or by email email@example.com ‘
Scappaticci has denied all allegations since he was first identified by the media as Stakeknife in 2003.
He fled Northern Ireland after he was named publicly. He has been linked to more than 50 murders.
According to a statement at the time, the focus of the investigation concerns:
whether there is evidence of the commission of criminal offences by the alleged agent known as Stakeknife, including but not limited to, murders, attempted murders and unlawful imprisonments.
whether there is evidence of criminal offences having been committed by members of the British Army, the Security Services or other Government agencies, in respect of the cases connected to the alleged agent known as Stakeknife.
whether there is evidence of criminal offences having been committed by any other individual, in respect of the cases connected to the alleged agent
whether there is evidence of the commission of criminal offences by any persons in respect of allegations of perjury connected to the alleged agent.
Source: Operation Kenova
It comes as a loyalist ‘supergrass’ who admitted to murdering five people had his 35-year jail term reduced to six and a half years for giving evidence against alleged former accomplices.
Gary Haggarty, 46, admitted involvement in the killings as part of the deal to give evidence against criminals charged. His evidence has led to one person being charged with murder.
Victims were left ‘deeply frustrated’ at what they saw as his unduly lenient minimum term for more than 200 offence.
A statement from lawyer Padraig O Muirigh said: ‘The families I represent have been left deeply frustrated after yesterday’s hearing.
‘Whilst they understand that Mr Haggarty was entitled to a reduction in sentence under the SOCPA 2005 legislation, the reduction allowed in their opinion was out of all proportion to the assistance that was rendered.
‘I have written to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Stephen Herron, to urge him to take appropriate steps to refer the sentence imposed on Gary Haggarty to the Court of Appeal.’
Small in stature with a mighty reputation: How Stakeknife rooted out IRA informants but turned after a brutal punishment beating
Freddie Scappaticci, allegedly the highest ranking British agent in the Provisional IRA, was feared by even the most hardened IRA gunmen and bombers.
As a member of their so-called ‘nutting squad’, he was charged with rooting out, interrogating and dealing with suspected informers. He also vetted IRA recruits.
‘Scap’ was the grandson of an Italian immigrant who moved to Northern Ireland in search of employment.
Scappaticci pictured at the 1987 funeral of IRA man Larry Marley
He lived and worked as a builder in West Belfast and was interned in the early 1970s alongside Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and a number of other high profile republicans.
Having joined the IRA as a low level footsoldier, he quickly rose through the ranks becoming deputy head of the movement’s notorious internal security unit.
It is alleged a brutal punishment beating persuaded Scappaticci to become a double agent known as Stakeknife, first with the Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch and then with the Army’s Force Research Unit – a shadowy undercover outfit linked to the murder of Catholic civilians.
As a prized asset, Stakeknife reportedly received payments of up to £80,000 a year for information about kidnappings, bombings and shootings.
He was named publicly for the first time in 2003 by disaffected Army agent Kevin Fulton, a South Armagh soldier who had infiltrated the IRA for the intelligence services.
Fulton, who had fallen on hard times, threatened to unmask Stakeknife in a row over money.
Scappaticci, who has always denied being the agent codenamed Stakeknife, fled Northern Ireland in 2003 following media revelations.
With many thanks to the: Daily Mail for the origional story.