Cellular Telephone Purchases
both California and Texas, the purchase of prepaid cellular telephones by
suspicious person has been reported to local and federal authorities. On
December 31, 2005, store employees in Hemet, California reported the purchase of
150 prepaid telephones to local and federal authorities. Early that month, the
Midland Police Department, Texas, confirmed that store employees reported six
suspicious individuals attempted to purchase 60 telephones.
According to ABC new, federal authorities have begun an investigation into the
purchase of large quantities of pre-paid or disposable cellular telephones.
Retail and online outlets offer sales and activation of pre-paid cellular
telephones which do not require a contract or credit check. The ready access and
anonymity offered by these devices make them attractive to criminals and perhaps
a means of communication pre-paid telephones offer several tactical advantages.
First, they provide high-tech, virtually untraceable, communications gear.
Because they do not require a contract or credit check, almost anyone can
purchase one, under almost any name. Tracing back a number to an individual may
well become virtually impossible. Furthermore, the low price provides the
additional tactical advantage of secure communications because criminals and/or
terrorists can change devices and numbers thereby avoiding traditional wiring
additional threat to American security may be the use of cellular telephones as
a means to remotely detonate explosives. Remote detonation gives terrorists
other tactical advantages. Remote detonation can occur by either re-wiring the
cellular telephone so that when it is called instead of ringing the electrical
current is used for detonation. Also, the alarm clock we typically use to remind
us of the time can be used as the timing device for the detonation.
Remote detonation is used to time events, allow for a target to pass near a
pre-positioned device, allow a device to be moved into position, or provide a
delay in activation for escape. It is suspected that cellular telephones were
used as a means of remote detonation in both the Madrid and London bombings.
Remote detonation does not necessarily preclude a suicide bomber. By remote, it
is meant that the time of detonation is pre-determined. It may well be that the
London bombers were so well synchronized because the explosions were remotely
timed by pre-setting a cellular alarm clock.
enforcement officials use a number of devices to investigate and counter the
tactical advantage. For instance, Triggerfish is a relatively old-style
technology that can home in on a cellular telephone when they are in use.
However, this still requires that law enforcement know the cellular telephone
number they are trying to track. Again, this highlights the difficulty in
pursuing investigative leads on disposable cellular telephones. Additionally,
there is technology available and in use which creates a limited cellular
telephone dead zone. This technology might be useful in creating a dead zone
under certain circumstances. As an example, a dead zone can be created by
jamming the cellular frequencies after one attack in order to prevent secondary
devices. Unfortunately, jamming on interrupts all incoming and outgoing calls
it doesn't discriminate between terrorists and first responders; and, jamming
does not effect timing devices.