Freddie Scappaticci was born in 1946 and raised in a deeply nationalist area of Belfast. When the Troubles broke out in 1969, he joined the Provisional IRA, where he quickly rose through the ranks, becoming commander of Belfast in 1984.
From the outside, Scappaticci appeared to be a dedicated volunteer, but inwardly, he had become disenchanted with the IRA and, in 1977, he started working for British intelligence. At the same time, he took up a leading role in a newly formed IRA Internal Security Unit (ISU), aka ‘The Nutting Squad’. He personally executed two suspected informers and condemned at least thirty-seven more to death.
Was he the serial killer that history portrays him? Undoubtedly. But it’s not that simple, because every time he passed the death penalty on an informer, he told his British intelligence handlers about the intended execution, giving them the opportunity to prevent the killing.
Did the tasking and co-ordinating group, the primary British intelligence organisation in Northern Ireland during the troubles, aid and abet the IRA in the mass-murder of British citizens? That is the question Richard O’Rawe poses in Stakeknife’s Dirty War. But O’Rawe goes further: he lays out a very compelling case that points to the TCGs running the IRA’s war from the mid-1980s to the 1994 ceasefire. Such was the British intelliegence penetration of the IRA, that Freddie Scappaticci, aka ‘Stakeknife’, was in control of all IRA operations in the Belfast Brigade area.