MI5 Super Spy Targeted Old Firm Fans As Informants For Republican and Loyalist Groups
The old Glasgow company was unwittingly used to recruit operatives into Republican and Loyalist paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland, the Sunday World has learned.
he startling revelation was made last week by Ken McCallum, the new head of MI5.
Shortly after being recruited as a spy 25 years ago, McCallum was parachuted into Northern Ireland.
And for the next 10 years, he operated here as an undercover agent.
In an interview last week, the super-spook first revealed details of how he used his knowledge of Celtic and Rangers football clubs to engage informants.
“I just tried to find a common human bond with them to build a relationship on,” McCallum said.
But the career spy was also living a lie that could easily have endangered him at any time – because in reality he was not a fan of either club.
“I know it sounds like a complete evasion. But I come from a long line of Partick Thistle supporters! he said.
The director general of MI5 came to work in Belfast shortly after the paramilitary ceasefires of 1994.
In his very first interview, he revealed some of the secrets that helped him penetrate the Ulster terrorist groups that were still engaged in violence.
“I had a regular family education and never thought I would end up as head of MI5. Actually my uncle was a postman and I thought it might be a good job because you can be off in the afternoon!
“But in my case, I applied for traditional government jobs, and then there was a brief period in which I was able to have a ‘no-obligation’ meeting with MI5.
“I went there, mostly out of curiosity – I mean who wouldn’t want to see the inside of a spy headquarters?” But I liked the people I met. I liked their sense of purpose. I liked that they didn’t seem to have big egos and 25 years later I’m still here.
McCallum freely admits that it was his intimate understanding of Glasgow’s sectarian divide that helped him during his first assignment as an MI5 agent manager in Northern Ireland.
“My first job was to work in Northern Ireland. I was working on the peace process. I dealt with the denial groups that were trying to tear up the Good Friday Accord.
“My specific job was as a manager of agents working with human beings within terrorist organizations to try to protect people. My role was to persuade a member of a terrorist cell to stay in the cell, but to work with me instead, to keep people safe. It’s a hell of a challenge.
“I mean, if I walked into a room to meet an IRA member, in their eyes I was probably their arch enemy. It is therefore a professional challenge.
“I mean, how do you find that thing that connects you with that other human being to persuade him to do the right thing and work with us?” It’s a risk.
“It can be sport. This is often the case. I mean as far as Northern Ireland is concerned, I have supported all of the Glasgow teams, ”said McCallum.
In 2012, McCallum took over counterterrorism investigations in the run-up to the London Olympics.
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