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Ira mole on the run { May 12 2003 }

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Top IRA mole 'Stakeknife' on the run
Last Updated Mon, 12 May 2003 14:07:38

DUBLIN - After decades of living under cover as the top British intelligence mole inside the Irish Republican Army, a man code-named "Stakeknife" has gone into hiding after being exposed.

Newspapers in Dublin, London and Belfast identified the secret agent as Alfredo Scappaticci, the IRA's longtime director of internal security making him responsible for identifying and killing traitors.

Scappaticci is thought to have fled from his residence south of Dublin and gone into hiding, perhaps at the British military's Force Research Unit base in rural Dorset.

The Force Research Unit is the British army's Northern Ireland spy team.

That unit's methods of operating in the troubled province have been under investigation by London police chief John Stevens since 1989. He's been looking into allegations the British military infiltrated, colluded with, and manipulated competing outlawed groups.

The British allegedly went to great lengths to protect their highly placed mole. Learning in 1987 that the Ulster Defence Association, a Protestant group, planned to kill Scappaticci, the army used a mole inside the UDA to redirect the hit team to another IRA veteran with an Italian surname.

Francisco Notorantino was shot to death in his bed. He had stopped being an active IRA member in the early 1970s.

Stevens confirmed the existence of Stakeknife a month ago, saying he wanted to interview him about his work with the Force Research Unit and about his role in IRA murders.

As the security chief of the IRA, Scappaticci would have had intimate knowledge of all personnel matters in the paramilitary group. The security unit he allegedly led would have selected prospective members, and would have tortured suspected traitors.

IRA members or civilians found to have given information to the British were typically forced to record a confession, then were shot through the head, their naked and bound bodies dumped by country roadsides.

Scappaticci, commentators say, would have been able to identify for the British every IRA member in Northern Ireland, and arrange for some to be promoted while others were killed.

Written by CBC News Online staff

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