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Rogue british agent blows ira mole cover { May 4 2003 }

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Sunday Herald - 04 May 2003
Agent to hit out by naming top IRA mole
Former soldier makes threat after MoD backtracks on pay-off deal
By Neil Mackay, Home Affairs Editor

THE IRA and the UK's intelligence services are in crisis this morning following threats by a rogue British agent to expose the identity of the army's most highly placed mole inside the ranks of the Provos.

The British government and the intelligence services have been warned that the true identity of Stakeknife, the codename for Britain's key double-agent at the heart of the IRA and Sinn Fein, will be blown in one week.

The threats have been made by Kevin Fulton, a cover name for a former British soldier who worked as an agent inside the IRA for the army's Force Research Unit (FRU), an ultra-secret intelligence wing.

Fulton is threatening to expose the identity of Stakeknife because he claims the Ministry of Defence have not honoured a promise to provide him with a relocation package after his cover was blown in Ulster.

Fulton posed as an IRA volunteer for a number of years, passing information on republican military plans to his handlers in British intelligence. However, when his cover was blown the army failed to provide him with a new home, a new identity, a new job and a sizeable pay-off.

Fulton has been demanding a full relocation package for a number of years. Cut adrift , his life is in clear danger from IRA gunmen who may wish to settle scores for Fulton's years working as an informer. The security forces have told Fulton that they believe his life is not in danger and he doesn't need a full relocation package.

Intelligence sources unofficially say this analysis is 'utter rubbish'. One added: 'The Provos would be delighted to take out Fulton. If he doesn't have protection then he's a dead man walking.'

He has already made himself a huge thorn in the side of British intelligence. Fulton played a key role in revealing the true events behind the Omagh bombing, which killed 29 people in 1998. Without Fulton, it would never have been established that the RUC had prior warning that the bomb plot was in the offing.

It has been claimed that the RUC allowed the bomb to be placed in Omagh in order to protect an agent in the Real IRA. The RUC, it is said, did not want to cause loss of life, but mixed-up telephone warnings resulted in Saturday shoppers being shepherded into the path of the explosion rather than away from the blast site.

Given the havoc that Fulton has previously wrought within the intelligence community, the British establishment is taking his threat to name Stakeknife very seriously. Friends of Fulton say the relocation package had been agreed by the British government earlier this year but was withdrawn in the past few weeks. 'It infuriated him when they welched on the deal,' one said. 'That may account for his current tactics.'

Stakeknife is described as one of the IRA's biggest hitters. As an agent for British intelligence he provided top-grade information on both IRA military operations and political manoeuvrings by Sinn Fein in return for huge payments into an offshore bank account. He is known to have been close to Gerry Adams and was one of the leading military figures in the Provos.

As an agent for the British, Stakeknife was allowed to carry out terrorist operations with impunity to preserve his cover. One intelligence source said: 'If he hadn't been murdering people, then he would have been rumbled as an agent in no time.' Stakeknife has killed soldiers, police officers, civilians and fellow republicans. The number of his murder victims is believed to run into double figures.

One British intelligence source described Fulton's threat as 'the biggest security headache I can remember'. Fulton, who is not speaking to the press, is said to have named his plan 'Operation Dinner-Out'.

Fulton has written affidavits which he has given to his lawyer outlining the life and crimes of Stakeknife. He has also given a sealed letter containing the name of Stakeknife to his lawyer, who has been ordered to open it and make the name public in the event of Fulton's death.

A British intelligence source said: 'Fulton has made clear that he knows Stakeknife's identity and he is threatening to name him unless his life is safeguarded and he gets what he wants from the MoD. There are now grave consequences facing British intelligence operations in Ulster.'

Another added: 'Fulton has upped the ante considerably by threatening to make these revelations. Everything is up in the air . The government could either think that he's bluffing or they could cave in and give him what he wants. If he isn't bluffing then we have a dreadful situation on our hands.

'Either way, I predict we will see agents in Northern Ireland moving around pretty quickly in the coming days. This is putting people's lives at risk.'

Stakeknife would be immediately executed by the IRA's internal security unit -- the so-called 'Nutting Squad' -- if his identity was revealed. The information he has passed to the British has compromised countless IRA operations and led to the deaths and imprisonment of leading Provos.

A friend of Fulton's said: 'Kevin believes his life is in imminent danger. He doesn't want to do this, but if he doesn't get what he wants from the British then he will be left with no alternative but to expose Stakeknife.'

Fulton is known to have telephoned senior intelligence officials last week and told them Stakeknife's real name to prove he was serious about his threats. An intelligence source said: 'This man appears not to be kidding. If Stakeknife's name gets out it will be devastating. Stakeknife's handlers knew that he was killing security force personnel and civilians in order to keep his cover inside the IRA so he could continue passing us information. It would be a public relations nuclear meltdown.'

The British government has previously threatened to interdict any newspaper which identifies Stakeknife, claiming that exposure would lead to his death and massively compromise national security.

The Republicans are now frantically trying to work out who Stakeknife is before the mounting pressure leads to the double-agent fleeing Northern Ireland .

One republican source said: 'At first, Stakeknife was thought to be a myth -- a piece of black propaganda designed by the British to keep us on our toes. Then we thought he might be an amalgam of a number of high-up touts. Now it appears, it really is just one man. If he's named, he will be killed.'

The revelations about Stakeknife follow a month of serious knocks to the British intelligence community in Ulster. In mid-April, Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir John Stevens, released his report on alleged collusion between British security forces and terrorists in Northern Ireland.

As a result of Stevens's work nine members of the FRU, including Brigadier Gordon Kerr, the Aberdonian army officer who led the unit, could now face prosecution. Up to 14 civilians may have been killed because of state collusion with paramilitaries, including Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

Fulton was also handled by the FRU at one point during his career as a spy in Ulster. Stakeknife is still in the province and is still handled by members of the shadowy Force Research Unit.

Copyright 2003 smg sunday newspapers ltd. no.176088

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