How British intelligence infiltrated the IRA

How British intelligence infiltrated the IRAA Republican mural in Belfast

"During the next few months, Fulton and I met several times on Platform 13. Over time his jitters settled, his speech loosened, and his past tumbled out: his rise and fall in the Irish Republican Army, his deeds and misdeeds, his loyalties and betrayals. He had served as a covert foot soldier in what has come to be called the Dirty War: a cutthroat and secret British effort to infiltrate and undermine the IRA, carried out in the shadows of the infamous Troubles. "It was a lot grayer and darker," Fulton said of the clandestine war. "Darker even than people can imagine."

But there’s this: it worked. British spies subverted the IRA from within, leaving it in military ruin, and Irish Republicans – who want to end British rule in Northern Ireland and reunite the island – have largely shifted their weight to Sinn Fein and its peaceable, political efforts. And so the Dirty War provides a model for how to dismantle a terrorist organization. The trick is to not mind killing, and to expect dying."

One of the more sobering facts in the article is how one spy, Scappaticci, the head of an assassination squad, kept his cover:

"The one preconception the IRA had is that if you are dirty – that is, if you have killed – then you cannot be an agent." Scappaticci exploited that misapprehension. "His best protection," Ingram continued, "was to keep killing." 

From The Atlantic>>

An interview with article writer Matthew Teague at NPR>>

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