Has the notorious IRA agent “Stakeknife,” widely named as Freddie Scappaticci, finally been arrested?

The man thought to be one of the British Army’s top-ranking double agents within the IRA, codenamed “Stakeknife,” has been arrested by detectives of Operation Kenova.

Widely named as Freddie Scappaticci from west Belfast, the investigative team confirmed that a 72-year-old man had been arrested in connection with as many as 30 murders linked to the notorious “Stakeknife” but would not confirm Scappaticci’s name.

The BBC reports that Scappaticci is being questioned, however, after being arrested in England. The grandson of Italian immigrants to Northern Ireland, Scappaticci was named as “Stakeknife” by Northern Ireland journalists in 2003. He admitted he was a republican, but he denied working in the IRA's “nutting squad” or acting as double-agent “Stakeknife.” He disappeared soon after being named. It is believed that he has returned to Northern Ireland just once in the past 16 years – for his father’s funeral in 2017.

A statement from detectives confirmed that the arrest was made "in connection with the investigation into allegations of murder, kidnap and torture."

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A man widely named as the UK Army’s notorious IRA agent Stakeknife has been arrested by detectives, sources said.https://t.co/NAyHUWmnHn

— The Irish Times (@IrishTimes) January 30, 2018

"He is currently in custody at an undisclosed location and will be interviewed in relation to the investigation,” it continued.

“No further details of the place of arrest or where he is being held will be released due to security reasons."

“Stakeknife” is believed to have been the most high-ranking British agent within the Provisional IRA. He is said to have been the head of the IRA’s internal security unit known as the “nutting squad,” responsible for the brutal interrogation and murder of as many as 30 people believed to be IRA informers.

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While working as the IRA's chief spy catcher, “Stakeknife” was, in fact, feeding information to the British Army, overseeing the murder of informants within the Republican movement while also working with British security forces.

The Guardian reports that the suspect was arrested directly in connection to the murder of a loyalist in Belfast in the 1980s, although the double agent’s unit is believed to be responsible for up to 30 murders in total.

The families of several IRA members who were killed by the “nutting squad” as informers have filed complaints stating that the British could have prevented deaths with the information that “Stakeknife” leaked, but that their family members' lives were sacrificed in order to protect the identity of the IRA mole.

A team of independent detectives probing claims of murder, kidnap and torture detained a 72-year-old at an undisclosed location on Tuesday, a statement from Operation Kenova said https://t.co/U80jGiwq4w

— Belfast Live (@BelfastLive) January 30, 2018

Operation Kenova was established in 2016 in order to examine the activities of current and former police officers, members of the Army and MI5 and former members of the IRA. The independent team of detectives was established after the former director of public prosecutions in Northern Ireland, Barra McGrory QC, referred multiple allegations to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. It is led by Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher.

"Operation Kenova is a complex and wide-ranging investigation which was launched in June 2016 to investigate allegations of murder, kidnap and torture dating back to the 1970s.” said an investigation update.

"So far the team has engaged with more than 40 families and processed more than 500,000 pages of information generating 1,500 lines of inquiry.

"Anyone with any information relating to Operation Kenova can contact the team by calling 01234 858298 or by email kenova@met.police.uk."

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Freddie Scappaticci, widely named as the British Army's IRA mole "Stakeknife." BBC