Bulk cellphone purchases: No longer of media interest

By Douglas J. Hagmann, Director

11 June 2008: In May 2006, we reported the nexus between bulk cellular telephone purchases taking place across the U.S. and terrorism. Specifically, our reports concluded that while bulk cell phones indeed have their place in the venue of fraudulent overseas sales, their components were being used to create detonators for improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Of course, IEDs are the leading cause of maiming and death of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We have found and reported on numerous instances where men who admittedly support an Islamist ideology have been caught purchasing cellular telephone in bulk. In each instance, their supporters have denied that they have any connection to the dirty and less socially acceptable business of terrorism, instead opting to admit to the more palatable explanation that they were merely engaged in an overseas reselling scheme. The latter explanation could land them in jail for up to 25 years, while the former tends to be less socially acceptable, even as the multitudes are convinced that the threat posed by Islamic terrorism has been overblown.

In August 2006, we reported on the increase of such purchases across the U.S., and noted on a similar increase in postings of Arabic language forums pertaining to the modifications of cell phones and use of their components to construct detonation devices.

Despite our findings, even in light of a “Joint Information Bulletin” issued on February 7, 2006 issued by the FBI and DHS about suspicious bulk cellular telephone purchases, the media ignored the association of such purchases to terrorism, and instead relied on the more benign explanation of illegal profiteering by Arab men with a keen but misguided entrepreneurial spirit.

Publicly, our intelligence agencies denied that bulk cell phone purchases played any role in the more graphic and deadly aspect in the war, much like their recent softening on the threat posed by Saudi-funded mosques and Islamic centers in the U.S. that teach the Wahabbi Islamic doctrine, the “strings” that are attached to such funding.

Two years later, private analysts who continue to wade in the cloudier waters of the Internet are finding more and more references to creating detonators from cellular phone components, such as the following image, one of several that contained detailed instructions:

Apparently, our media must consider the issue closed, in spite of the facts. Those within our intelligence agencies in charge of press and public relations appear unwilling to press the matter, perhaps feeling the increased pressure by pro-Islamic political lobby groups that are quick to condemn associations between bulk phone purchases and terrorism.