Freddie Scappaticci, Who May Have Been British Spy ‘Stakeknife,’ Is Dead

He died as he lived, in a miasma of thriller carrying a whiff of violence, dying and deceit.

The solely public certainty appeared to be a cussed denial by Freddie Scappaticci that he had ever been a double agent with the code identify Stakeknife — the British Army’s highest-ranking mole within the rebel Irish Republican Army through the Northern Ireland sectarian battle generally known as the Troubles.

Word of his demise started to emerge in latest days as many individuals, together with President Biden, gathered in Ireland to rejoice the twenty fifth anniversary on April 10 of the Good Friday Agreement that set Northern Ireland on track for a nonetheless imperfect peace.

“We were made aware last week of the passing of Frederick Scappaticci,” Jon Boutcher, a former chief constable within the British police who’s main a protracted inquiry into the Stakeknife imbroglio, introduced on April 11.

The normal particulars of an obituary — the date, location and reason for dying — have been lacking. Even Mr. Scappaticci’s age was unsure.

By the time his dying turned identified, British news stories stated, he had already been buried at an undisclosed location. He was in his mid-to-late 70s and had been dwelling underneath a witness safety program, these stories stated.

Perhaps fittingly, Mr. Scappaticci’s dying conjured one of many darkest, deepest unsolved mysteries of a battle, fought publicly and within the shadows, that took greater than 3,000 lives in three many years of sectarian bloodletting. The battle drew in Catholic Republicans in search of a united Ireland, Protestant loyalists preventing for continued ties to Britain, and the British authorities that management Northern Ireland.

Mr. Scappaticci, a former bricklayer, led the Irish Republican Army’s inside safety unit for greater than a decade. He was accused of overseeing the torture and killing of greater than 30 suspected informers. If, on the identical time, he was the British mole referred to as Stakeknife, then he was a paid British agent killing fellow British brokers.

Mr. Scappaticci might nicely have taken a few of his secrets and techniques to his grave, shielding authorities intelligence and navy handlers from one of many central ethical conundrums of the case: Did the British state collude within the killings with a purpose to shield Stakeknife’s id?

British officers have described Stakeknife because the “golden egg” and “the jewel in the crown” of their infiltration of the I.R.A. They have stated that intelligence he delivered alerted them to myriad I.R.A. operations, saving lots of of lives.

For the I.R.A., the case has the potential to revive a deep humiliation at being so duped by its British adversaries.

Mr. Boutcher’s protracted and oft-delayed inquiry, begun in 2016, goals to resolve these questions. His assertion stated “that people may now feel more able to talk” about Mr. Scappaticci now that he’s gone, and requested “anyone with information” to come back ahead.

The case has assumed significantly lurid overtones due to the intense violence it concerned. Stakeknife had penetrated the center of the I.R.A.’s inside safety unit, generally known as the Nutting Squad, a macabre sobriquet evoking the unit’s customary working process — the execution of accused informers with two bullets to the “nut,” or head. Bodies have been normally then dumped.

It is unclear what number of different informers have been reporting the I.R.A.’s internal workings to the British.

“You can’t rule out the real possibility that within that unit there were other persons who had informant status,” Kevin Winters, a lawyer representing 12 households of the I.R.A.’s victims, advised The Sunday Times of London, referring to the so-called Nutting Squad.

But Mr. Scappaticci’s dying might also imply that point is working in opposition to an unraveling of such mysteries.

“The very nature of historical investigations will mean a higher likelihood that old age may catch up with those affected,” Mr. Boutcher stated within the assertion, “be they perpetrators, witnesses, victims, family members or those who simply lived through those times, before matters are concluded.”

Alfredo Scappaticci was born in a staunchly Republican space of Belfast within the mid-Nineteen Forties, the descendant of an Italian household that had immigrated to Northern Ireland within the Twenties and based a enterprise promoting ice-cream. He was identified variously as Scap and Freddie.

As a zealous soccer participant, he was stated to have tried out for a British membership, Nottingham Forest, however returned to Northern Ireland to grow to be a bricklayer. He married Sheila Cunningham, with whom he had six youngsters. Ms. Scappaticci died in Belfast in 2019, in line with Irish news stories.

No details about survivors was out there.

In 1969, Britain deployed armed forces in Northern Ireland to attempt to tamp down sectarian violence. One tactic was internment with out trial, primarily of suspected Republican activists, at a former Royal Air Force primarily based exterior Belfast, then generally known as Long Kesh.

In 1971, Mr. Scappaticci was amongst these detained together with such dominant figures of the Republican motion as Gerry Adams, who later turned head of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the I.R.A. When Mr. Scappaticci was freed after three years of detention, he had, by most accounts, grow to be a dedicated foot soldier of the I.R.A., destined for speedy promotion in its inside safety unit.

According to Martin Ingram, the pseudonymous co-author of “Stakeknife: Britain’s Secret Agents in Ireland,” printed in 2012, Mr. Scappaticci “volunteered his services to British Army intelligence in 1978.” Several accounts say he made his transfer to hunt revenge after fellow I.R.A. operatives gave him a extreme beating for poor self-discipline.

Mr. Ingram wrote that till 1996 — two years after the I.R.A. declared a cease-fire — “Scappaticci would have a role in investigations into suspected informers; inquiries into operations suspected of being compromised; debriefings of I.R.A. volunteers released from questioning; and vetting of potential recruits.”

At the identical time, although, Mr. Ingram stated, Mr. Scappaticci was on the British payroll as an agent. Stakeknife was stated to have been paid 80,000 kilos a 12 months, the equal of greater than $300,000 in in the present day’s cash.

“Stakeknife produced high-grade intelligence, much of it read at the highest levels of the political and security establishments. He was without doubt the jewel in the crown,” Mr. Ingram wrote. “The problem was, Stakeknife could only shine if he immersed himself in the activities of those he was reporting upon, including murder and other illegal acts.”

In 2003, a number of British newspapers recognized Stakeknife as Mr. Scappaticci. He denied the accusations publicly however then dropped out of sight. Several news stories stated the British authorities had spirited him away, first to the Italian city of Cassino after which to a witness safety program in Britain.

In his 2012 e-book, Mr. Ingram supplied a extra a definitive identification of Mr. Scappaticci as Stakeknife and named 35 victims of the Nutting Squad within the interval when Mr. Scappaticci was related to it. Mr. Ingram stated his nom de plume was meant to defend his id as a former member of the Force Research Unit, the undercover British group that ran Stakeknife as a mole.

Mr. Boutcher, the pinnacle of the Stakeknife inquiry, promised on April 11 that investigators would publish an interim report on their findings this 12 months. But households of victims greeted the news with skepticism.

“Clearly the death will have an impact on both the content of the report and whether or not criminal prosecutions go ahead,” Mr. Winter, the kin’ lawyer, stated. “Families of victims will rightly ask questions.”

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