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How to broadcast
to a group of cells...

Copyright ©1998 Lee Adams. All rights reserved.
NOTE – Spy & CounterSpy does not endorse, recommend, or suggest that you commit any illegal act. We function as investigative journalists, reporting information leaked to us by our contacts in various organizations (including intelligence agencies and law enforcement). This article is provided for information, education, entertainment, and research purposes only.
     Any security service – including the FBI – relies upon intercepted communications to penetrate and ruin an underground movement.
     A resistance movement must adopt a professional approach to communicating with its cells – otherwise the FBI will eavesdrop on the group's communications, identify key members in the movement, and begin to infiltrate agents into the organization. Soon the cells are paralyzed by moles, informants, agent-provocateurs, and honeypots.
Return to our home page and click on Glossary for definitions.
     The Alternatives.  For one-on-one communication, you can use a dead-letter drop, also called a DLB. (Return to our home page and click on Use dead-letter boxes.)
     DLBs are a safe and secure method for passing messages, documents, money, etc. between two people with no contact between the parties. However, they are best suited for intermittent communication between individuals. They are not suitable for broadcasting a message to a group of cells.
     Other possible methods include telephone calls from one pay phone to another, newspaper classified ads, bulletin boards in shopping malls, and so on.
     Unfortunately, each of these methods involves unacceptable security risks. Pay phone to pay phone communication forces you and your cells to be at a specific location at a specific time, which is inviting detection by the authorities. Newspaper classified ads are routinely monitored by the FBI, BATF, CIA, and NSA – that's why this system is seldom used any more by intelligence agencies or underground organizatons. Bulletin boards require each of your cells to break cover by appearing at a specific location.
     The Solution.  The best solution is for the resistance movement to piggyback the message on a transmitter that is already being used legitimately in the community. Examples of broadcasting transmitters than can be utilized are pager systems, local radio stations, local TV stations, cellular telephone networks, courier companies, taxi companies, repair companies with radio-controlled fleets of trucks, and so on.
     This article describes a time-proven method that is being used successfully by intelligence agencies in Europe and the USA – as well as underground organizations like the Red Brigades, the IRA, and the Tupamaros. The method entails using an existing paging system without the knowledge of the pager company or its customers.


Scanners are readily
available and no
license is required
in most locations.
The user's manual
tells you all you
need to know.

Step 1:  Locate a transmitter...
     1. Acquire a scanner.  Scanners are readily available at various electronics stores. They can be purchased off the shelf. No license is required to operate a scanner in most jurisdictions. The user's manual provides all the information that a novice needs to become proficient in using a scanner. Many salespersons, eager to make the commission on the sale, will clandestinely slip the buyer a copy of local frequencies (air control, taxi, ambulance, weather, etc.).
     2. Find a frequency.  Identify one or more frequencies being used by pager services. The messages will often consist of simply a name and number to telephone. For example, "Dr. Name please call Records at nnn-nnnn".
     Doctors, paramedics, lawyers, executives, repair personnel, building contractors, and many others use pagers.
     The system works like this – a caller who wants a doctor to call back simply telephones the pager company's number, enters a four-digit pager ID number, and speaks a short message. The pager company's computer records the message and broadcasts it on the appropriate frequency to the doctor's pager unit.
     3. Monitor the frequency.  The goal is to obtain the names and telephone numbers of callers who are paging someone to call them back. The resistance movement may need to scan at different times during the week to obtain a good sampling. A single frequency may service dozens of pager customers. An embedded code is used to alert the particular pager unit being addressed.


You can use the
telephone number
and pager ID
to trigger a
transmission over
the air waves.

Step 2:  Acquire the access codes...
     1. Role playing.  For the purposes of this article, imagine you're an urban guerrilla. You telephone one of the callers whose name and number you've acquired with your scanner. You pretend you are a customer of the pager company. You've been receiving other people's messages all day. In fact, you received one of this person's messages for Dr. [Name]. Sound exasperated. Ask the person for the number and pager ID that they called so you can clear it up with the pager company. Thank them profusely.
     2. Grab the frequency.  The resistance movement now has a telephone number and a pager ID that it can use to trigger the pager company into transmitting a message on a specific frequency. If you were to call from a public pay phone, you could broadcast anonymously over the air waves.


Use coded messages
that don't attract
unwanted attention..

Step 3:  Set up a broadcast schedule...
     1. Distribute the frequency.  The resistance movement informs each of its cells of the frequency. The leader sets up pre-arranged transmission times with his/her group of cells – for example, advise them to be monitoring the frequency at 7:45 pm each Tuesday.
     2. Begin broadcasting.  As an urban guerrilla, whenever you want to broadcast anonymously to your group of cells, you use a public pay phone to call the pager number and pager ID. Use pre-arranged coded messages that your cells will understand. For example, "Let's change our appointment to Wednesday at 3" might actually mean "Switch to dead-letter box number 3".
     3. Anonymous reception.  Provided that each of the cells acquires a scanner and is tuned to the appropriate frequency at the pre-arranged times, the entire group of cells will receive the broadcasts. There is no other contact between the leader and the cells. Security is watertight. Intelligence agencies and underground groups call this type of system a one-way radio link (OWRL).
     When used properly, even the existence of the broadcast system will elude the authorities. The FBI can't eavesdrop on communications whose existence they're unaware of.


Never call from
a telephone that
can be traced.

Step 4:  Keeping the system secure...
     1. Message content.  Don't attract suspicion. The resistance movement leader uses innocuous messages that the legitimate pager user will simply dismiss as a "wrong number".
     2. Traffic volume.  Don't attract unwanted attention. Don't overuse the system. The savvy urban guerrilla makes sure to intermingle this method with other methods. Use more than one pager ID and use more than one pager company.
     3. Don't get traced.  The savvy urban guerrilla never calls from a phone that can be associated with him/her. Today's digital telephony makes instant call-tracing a fact of life. Always initiate the broadcasts from a public pay phone. Use a different pay phone each time. Or use a phone borrowed at arm's-length (ie an office receptionist, a bar, a stranger's cell-phone, etc.).
     4. Adapt and innovate.  Consider augmenting this system with other methods. A smart urban guerrilla will use the scanner to hack the system of a repair company that uses radio to keep in contact with its fleet of trucks. Consider phoning in to local radio music-request lines to broadcast to your cells. Use the public-address system of shopping malls, office buildings, etc. Some guerrilla groups hack into a third-party's answering service – once they've got their access code they can leave, pickup, and erase messages anonymously. Use the telephone mailbox services of a singles' connection service.
NOTE – Spy & CounterSpy does not endorse, recommend, or suggest that you commit any illegal act. This article is provided for information, education, entertainment, and research purposes only.


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