Skip to comments.Disposable Cell Phone Purchases a Result of NSA Leak and NY Times Story
Posted on 01/15/2006 3:32:02 PM PST by Nasty McPhilthy
The FBI has initiated an intense investigation into the increase in purchases of large numbers of disposable cell phones by individuals who emanate from the Middle East and Pakistan.
The cheap cell phones, which do not require purchasers to sign a contract or have a credit card, have many legitimate uses, and are popular with those who have bad credit or for use as emergency phones tucked away in motor vehicle glove compartments. But, according to law enforcement commanders, since they can be difficult or impossible to track, the phones are widely used by organized crime gangs, drug traffickers and terrorists.
The FBI agents are closely monitoring this dangerous situation, which came to light following recent large-quantity purchases in California and Texas. In fact, these two purchases occurred after the New York Times published a story regarding a top secret NSA surveillance program which was leaked by an official or officials unknown at this time.
In a December 31 transaction at a Target store in California, 150 disposable cell phones were purchased. Suspicious store employees called the local police, who in turn notified the FBI.
In a December 18 incident at a Wal-Mart store in Texas, six individuals attempted to buy about 60 of the phones until store clerks became suspicious and notified the police who informed the FBI of the transaction.
The Midland, Texas, police report dated December 18 and obtained by ABC News states: "Information obtained by MPD [Midland Police Department] dispatch personnel indicated that approximately six individuals of Middle-Eastern origin were attempting to purchase an unusually large quantity of tracfones [disposable cell phones with prepaid minutes attached]." At least one of the suspects was identified as being from Iraq and another from Pakistan, officials said.
When the local police officers arrived, the suspects were observed moving away from the registers while trying to avoid detection while they discarded merchandise -- 60 tracphones.
These purchasers are believed to be linked to a terrorist cell operating within the United States, according to counterterrorist sources.
According to sources in the federal law enforcement community, reports are coming in from other cities, including Dallas, and from cops in other states. Authorities in Pennsylvania, New York and other parts of Texas confirmed that they were alerted to the cases. It's believed other local law enforcement agencies and anti-terrorism task forces have also been notified.
The growing use of the throwaway cell phones has been cited by President Bush as an important justification for expanding the wiretap laws under the Patriot Act.
"Law enforcement officials can now use what's now called roving wiretaps, which will prevent a terrorist from switching cell phones to get a message out to one of his buddies," said the President during a press conference following the NSA spy leak.
Law enforcement commanders are being sensitive to allegations of profiling, so they are saying it is possible that some large purchases are being sent to the Middle East for resale in a sellers' markets in their home countries, or as gifts for friends and relatives.
In fact, as a result of news stories regarding suspicious disposable cell phone purchases, the American Civil Liberties Union is looking into legal action they might take to stifle law enforcement's investigation of Middle Easterners making large-quantity purchases.
However, both intelligence officers and law enforcement investigators are monitoring reports of large-quantity purchases.
It's believed that some purchasers of disposable cellular phones could include political extremists, terrorist supporters, sympathizers or others simply shaken by the recent revelations of the National Security Agency's widespread monitoring of calls, including calls to and from the United States to foreign countries.
LEO's can then just get serial numbers from the store and the phone numbers from the Mfg., then LOOK for those phone numbers when making calls to give them a little more shall we say extra scrutiny???
The Soviet Union first learned about U.S. nuclear research when the NYT published an article in 1940 detailing the fact that the U.S. was perusing technology to enrich uranium in order to counter the German nuclear threat.
All of these employees should be given medals of honor for using their heads, profiling and probably saving a lot of our butts, it's a good thing these employees aren't liberals and it's doubtful they belong to the ACLU.
Guess there is a reason why they terrorists hit the WTC rather than the NY Times building.
Midland...that seems so weird. But I talked to a friend who lives there and she said apparently the perps were traveling and stopping at Walmarts in various West TX towns, trying to buy the phones. She also said that they let all but one of the guys go, the other had a visa violation. I think she must have gotten this info from local news.
The legal extortion industry has expended much energy trying to hold gun makers liable for crimes involving their products. Will these same groups act in kind when the first Tracfone enabled bomb goes off?
You are just pissing me off even more with threads such as this.
Keep it up!
you are going to see a move to restrict the anonimity aspect of these pre-paid cell phones. it has to happen, this is a gaping hole in the ability to monitor communications. not that the conversation cannot be tapped, they surely can - but you don't know who has the phone, and the same person can just switch from phone to phone, so its impossible to establish a calling pattern tied to an individual.
yes, they can use pay phones. but those at least have a geographic certainty to them - you know where the person was when making the call. and its alot harder to drive around from place to place making calls on pay phones.
those were satellite phones.
A satellite is a cell phone with a taller tower. Both eventually go on to the net. And cell (and satellite) phone transmissions have all kinds on information on them.
Don't Tracfones use a non-compatible frequency standard that is not used outside of the US?
the sat phones works anywhere, you don't need any cellular infrastructure. step outside your afghan cave, clear view to the sky, they work.
Women and children hardest hit!
Uhh, I don't know if it's been said yet, but.........
All your cell phones are belong to us.
I hope the phones are GPS enabled...
The call and information about the phone then goes up to a satellite then down to a ground station which then puts the call onto the public network. It can be tapped once on the public network, or sooner with cooperation and/or special equipment. Very little different than a cellphone except the HF travels farther.
These ass-clowns at the NYT need a visit from Mr. Clark...as in Clancy's Without Remorse.
I agree with you on your Post No. 2. I am also grateful to the employees of Wal-Mart and other stores for reporting the excessive sales of these phones. They are excellent Americans!