UDA leader Johnny Adair says loyalist paramilitary gangs were "awash" with informants.
Adair says his biggest problem as Shankill C Company boss was "the enemy within" and agrees with Lord Stevens who revealed the terror groups had hundreds of agents in their ranks.
The Stevens III investigation into the activities of the West Belfast UDA and the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989 made an astonishing find - of the 210 UDA members it probed, 207 were registered police informants.
The ramping up of loyalist attacks in the early 1990s - while the government was in secret dialogue with the IRA which led to the 1994 ceasefire - forced MI5 to turn its attentions to those 'Young Turks' who had replaced the old guard in the UVF and UFF.
For UFF commanders like Adair, the 'auld lads' in charge of their organisation were nothing but 'touts' working at the behest of RUC Special Branch.
Former West Belfast commander Adair has claimed he himself became a target not only of the IRA, but also of agents and informers within his own organisation.
"These people were at their work. I was doing a brilliant job in the early '90s. Brilliant," he said.
"The organisation was armed to the teeth, the recruits were flooding in. The boys came up to see me in jail. Spencer, Big Winkie, Donald. 'We've got bad news for ye (they said). They were going to kill ye in 1990. It wasn't the 'RA.' And I said, 'Tell me more.'
"The b*****ds devised a plan to kill me for no other reason … (than) I was a thorn in their side … Those c***s were gonna kill me."
Adair says he was well aware of attempts to turn the men under his command.
"My war was with the republicans but first and foremost the war was within. When you were getting up in the morning you didn't know, 'Is he working (for Special Branch). Has he been recruited?'
"Because the Special Branch, we know how they work. We know what their job is. Their job is not to police the area with RUC uniforms on. Their job is plain clothes - to go out and try and recruit people.
"They tried it with me. And so many people would come forward to me and say, 'Johnny - they offered me this and they offered me that.' But how many people did not come forward till [sic] me and accepted their offers? And that was my biggest threat - the 'enemy within' I used to call it.
"I was always trying to lay wee traps to try and smoke them out. And I would set wee traps. And sometimes it worked because, I mean, you're trying to kill republicans who's [sic] killing your people and blowing your country to smithereens. But at the end of the day you've f****n' rotten b******s who - for reasons either to stay out of jail or just for money and greed - were putting their own people in jail.
"Oh, I hated that and that was my biggest challenge, to deal with the 'enemy within' … Sadly the loyalist paramilitaries were awash with f****n' informants.
"You go back to that report where John Stevens stated that 207 were working for (the security forces)… I would believe that right."
He added: "In modern-day loyalism, it seems who is not a tout? They're all f*****g touts."
Under Adair, C Company became a killing machine. In the period between 1990 and 1994, loyalist paramilitaries killed 175 Catholics, 22 of whom were republican paramilitaries or ex-paramilitaries and 13 of whom were Sinn Féin activists.
Only 20 per cent of these victims were linked to the republican movement, which indicates loyalists found it much easier to target Catholic civilians, especially given the severity of residential segregation.
Despite the UVF and UFF ramping up their armed campaigns in the early 1990s, Special Branch officers were having some success in preventing attacks.
A former member of the UVF, 'Matthew', recalled that a team was sent to kill Martin McGuinness and his close associate Sean 'Spike' Murray in Belfast, but that their intended targets had been tipped off and the police were waiting for them. They were promptly arrested and imprisoned.
There is evidence to suggest that this was part of a wider pattern. One estimate for 1986-93 puts the number of loyalists arrested vis-à-vis republicans at a 2:1 basis, which highlights the ramping up of security forces operations against loyalist paramilitaries.
The prevention of attacks also took other forms, including the cultivation of agents inside loyalist paramilitary groups. One such agent reached a leadership position in the UVF and began to report extensively in the 1990s, assisting British intelligence in intercepting one of the group's largest ever shipments of illegal weapons and explosives in November 1993.
Had loyalist violence gone unchecked, loyalists would have succeeded in killing high-ranking republicans and thus jeopardised the secret dialogue that was underway.