15 January 2006

Spooks 'snake' strategy to behead loyalist terror

Sunday Life

15 January 2006

MI5 is turning up the heat on UDA and UVF godfathers in a bid to force them to stand down - or be shut down.

Sources have told Sunday Life that the Security Service has taken over a small section of Palace Barracks outside Holywood to direct the operation against loyalist terror bosses and their criminal empires.

It is understood that the Government has decided to target UDA and UVF leaders in the wake of last July's historic statement by the IRA formally announcing the end of its armed campaign.

One security source said the failure of the two main loyalist groups to follow the IRA's lead and their reluctance to stand down were seen as major obstacles which had to be tackled.

Said the source: "The Security Service [MI5] has been given the job of shutting down the UDA and UVF.

"Intelligence is the key to the success of this operation. The service will be gathering and collating intelligence on loyalist drug-dealing, prostitution, extortion - everything they are at."

He added: "There will be no hiding place for the paramilitary bosses.

"When the UDA and UVF refused to follow the IRA lead last year, their days were numbered."

Our source compared the MI5 operation against loyalist paramilitaries to "cutting the head off a snake".

"Once the head is cut off, the body might wriggle a bit, but it dies in no time.

"They [loyalist leaders] will be approached and shown what the state has against them.

"It will be a straightforward, non-negotiable choice - pack it all in now or we'll put you away for 20 years.

"It's an offer none of them will be able to refuse."

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