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Madrid native receives FBI’s Lou Peters Award

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MASSENA - Twelve years after testifying about his involvement as an international spy, a Madrid native was given the Lou Peters Award, the highest civilian award given out by the FBI.

David G. Rupert spent about seven years from 1994 to 2001 as a spy inside two different terrorist organizations in Ireland, the Real Irish Republican Army and the Continuity Irish Republican Army, as well as their support groups in the U.S.

“When I had heard about the award, it didn’t mean that much to me,” Mr. Rupert said. “I didn’t rank it as being as big a deal as it was, but it was a very big deal.”

Mr. Rupert said he was among “heavy hitters from D.C.” at the Sun Valley, Utah, ceremony, including the new FBI director, James B. Comey, who was there via Skype, and William H. Webster, former director of both the FBI and the CIA and a retired federal judge.

Mr. Rupert said the award is handed out every year at the ceremony, which usually entertains about 300 people.

“We got it this year for the work we did in Ireland,” he said of himself and his wife of 19 years, Maureen A.

Mr. Rupert received $1.25 million from the FBI and the U.K.’s MI5 agency after being contracted by the U.S. government and put on loan to the British government to infiltrate the Real IRA.

He was raised in Madrid and ran a trucking company in Massena until it went under. He then moved to Chicago and started a trucking business there. The FBI’s interest in Mr. Rupert began after it learned of a previous visit to Ireland with his girlfriend at the time.

During that trip, he had met Joe O’Neil, an Irish Republican bar owner.

The FBI got hold of a photograph of Mr. Rupert with Mr. O’Neil and showed up at Mr. Rupert’s Chicago office with the hopes of recruiting him as a spy.

Mr. Rupert said that in 1987 he was hospitalized with a serious illness that put him in a coma for 10 days. He said the near-death experience made him less afraid of the challenges he faced in Ireland.

“I probably wouldn’t have been able to do this had it not been for that,” he said.

Since his wife was with him during the seven years of his involvement, he said, there were times when they were both scared of his being discovered as a spy. “She would see me getting into a car with a group of terrorists,” he said.

Mr. Rupert’s job as an operative with the Real IRA was to transport money from the U.S. support groups to the groups in Ireland, while communicating with his FBI and MI5 handlers through encrypted e-mails.

His involvement with the Real IRA led to his meeting Michael McKevitt, leader of the Real IRA, on several occasions.

Shortly after Mr. Rupert was pulled out of the operation, he was asked to testify at the trial of Mr. McKevitt, who was charged with directing terrorism and being a member of an illegal organization.

Mr. Rupert said at first he refused to testify. After watching a documentary on the victims of the Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland, for which both the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA were responsible, he changed his mind.

The 13-day trial ended with Mr. McKevitt being convicted.

The now retired Mr. Rupert and his wife live with a lot of security. “I’m on a death list over there,” he said. “But their wanting me dead and being able to make that happen are two different things.”

Mr. Rupert said he and his wife are working on books and movie deals that will tell their story.

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