Superspy says Real IRA boss Mickey McKevitt was 'good guy... if he wasn’t a mass murderer'

He said McKevitt, who died last year, was riddled with guilt over the Omagh bomb, the worst single atrocity of the Troubles.

FBI agent David Rupert at home in his US hideaway

Hugh Jordan

The superspy who brought down the Real IRA from within says he was a key “cog” in destroying the terror group as MI5 lowered the dissident level threat for the first time in 12 years this week.

FBI agent David Rupert was one of the most prized spies throughout the whole of the Troubles and is credited with dealing dissidents their first major setback.

Rupert spoke out as the British government lowered Northern Ireland’s terror threat from ‘severe’ to ‘substantial’.

Speaking from hiding under protective custody in the United States, Rupert told the Sunday World: “It was the fight between good and evil – we stopped or slowed the progress of the dissidents for peace to take a hold.”

And he revealed how he grew to like the men who plotted murder, including Real IRA boss Mickey McKevitt who helped plan the Omagh bomb massacre.

Real IRA boss Mickey McKevitt

Rupert (70) – who was at the centre of one of the biggest undercover agent operations in history which also involved British intelligence – told the Sunday World: “I was a cog in a successful wheel that helped make the peace process possible.

“People found peace much more desirable to living in the fear of the past risking life, limb and freedom to further the political aspirations of a few dissidents.”

He said he realised how lucky he was to live and tell the tale: “Many that helped provide information didn’t make it through to see peace with their lives lost in some dark room tied to a chair with unspeakable questioning methods preceding an untimely death,” he said.

He said, incredibly, that he grew to like McKevitt, who was banged up for 20 years in 2003 when he was convicted of directing terrorism.

“McKevitt was a good guy – if it wasn’t for the fact that he was a mass murderer,” Rupert said.

Today Rupert – who was awarded the FBI’s prestigious Lou Peters Award for his services to combating terrorism – lives quietly at an undisclosed location in the US.

He said McKevitt, who died last year, was riddled with guilt over the Omagh bomb, the worst single atrocity of the Troubles.

McKevitt confessed to the FBI agent that he was seriously troubled about what happened in Omagh.

“He said the operation went wrong because the car transporting the bomb was parked in the wrong place, which meant the public was directed towards it.

“Mickey told me the Omagh bomb was a joint operation involving the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA.

“He told me the bomb had been manufactured by the Real IRA, which also supplied the car which transported it.

“But he insisted the Continuity IRA was solely responsible for bringing it to Omagh. And a lack of communication on the day of the bomb led to the confusion which resulted in the atrocity.

“McKevitt also said that as a result of what happened in Omagh, the car bomb was no longer a viable tactic for republican operations,” Rupert added.

This week the dying embers of the Troubles – at least for republican terror groups – faded further into the past when Secretary of State Brandon Lewis lowered the security threat posed by dissidents.

It came after a series of stunning successes against dissidents, including the arrest of the alleged army council of the New IRA in a sting involving another suspected double agent, Dennis McFadden.

The aftermath of the Omagh bombing

But it was Rupert who effectively crushed the Real IRA, which has now disappeared and been replaced by smaller but equally fanatical terror factions like the New IRA.

“When the peace process came into the realm of possibility one of the fears was that types like McKevitt and his crowd and the Continuity Army and its crowd would back door the peace process and provide a home for all those against it,” Rupert said.

“The operation I was involved in, on top of preventing destruction of life and property, was to provide information that was crucial to stopping (those who wanted to damage the) peace.

“I was not the only agent on the ground. I know many coerced members of the various IRAs and political organisations were compromised but I knew that mostly from reading from outside sources and not from any information that was given to me by the security organisations. “

Rupert was bankrolled by the FBI to the tune of $1.5 million and he regularly flew back and forth to Ireland, even attending a Real IRA Army Council meeting.

Rupert said he remembers being asked by a senior FBI officer to recall the moment he knew his efforts to infiltrate the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA had been successful.

“I told him it was when I was sitting on plane seat flying back to the States,” he said.

“He asked what I meant and I said, ‘If I hadn’t been successful, I’d have been flying home in a box as freight.”


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