April 26, 2010
The interrogation dragged on for hours. Fulton remained outwardly calm, and denied everything. Inwardly, though, he felt sick. He’d been spying on the IRA for a decade and a half, and he knew that if Scap broke him—if he admitted anything—he’d be a dead man—own a hole,” in IRA slang.
So throughout the interrogation, Fulton sat stone-faced, blindfolded, and facing the wall. Double blind. He held tight to his secret: yes, he was a British spy.
But then, so was his interrogator.
Found via Kottke, Longform.org is collecting great pieces of long form journalism. This is taken from an article about British counter-insurgency in Northern Ireland during the Troubles that makes for an interesting read.
By early 1993, Fulton and his team of bombers had found something less clumsy than wires to use in bomb and rocket detonation. They rigged bombs with photo sensors, which they triggered by popping off camera flashes. The results were lethal. Trouble was, other lights—bright headlights, or a tourist’s disposable photo flash—could set off a bomb prematurely.
British intelligence services, in an effort to control IRA techniques through collaboration, secretly passed along a solution for the problem: a new technology—the infrared flash—that could be acquired only in America. Fulton’s handlers offered to facilitate an undercover IRA shopping mission to New York, and an MI5 officer flew across the Atlantic on the Concorde to make arrangements with American services in advance of Fulton’s arrival. “This was a terrorist organization operating in the United States,” Fulton told me, and it required cooperation. “It was a pretty big thing.”
Fulton traveled to New York with several thousand dollars, met secretly with his handlers, arranged the purchase, and returned to Northern Ireland, ready to create a deadly new weapon. The IRA embraced the innovation, and it worked so well that other terrorist groups soon took notice and adapted the infrared photo-sensor bomb to their own wars. Today, Iraqi insurgents wield it against British and American troops in Iraq