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Report #003 09/01/99

After submitting the manuscript for my book to the publisher, several mistakes were discovered but unfortunately it was not possible to make corrections prior to the printing of the book. Also, some material has been updated based on more recent monitoring. The following is intended to present these details which have been gathered since the early 90's concentrated coverage of the described target.

Page 16: "Null Messages." An expansion of this item is important. According to the book "Widows", Soviet agents in the U.S. were serviced via HF CW from a transmission site in Cuba. "Widows" contained a description of the code used for Ralph Sigler, a double agent run by U.S. Army Intelligence.
1 - Don't want to see me
2 - No drop
5 - Stop everything, destroy everything, wait 6 months
7 - Go ahead - as planned
9 - Danger, go to Austria
0 - No message

The use of three T's or five T's (which served as cut zeros) has long been observed on Russian agent Morse code broadcasts and suspected by monitors of signifying "no message on this broadcast". The entry for Zero in the above brief code would seem to confirm that meaning.

Page 21: The correct placename for the former ASA monitoring station mentioned several times is Vint Hill Farms.

Page 37: The callup format for the Ruyssian RTTY network when traffic is upcoming is as follows:
46464646464646464646464646(sequence continues to end of line)
SPK SPK SPK 2/228 (sequence repeated twice more)
The two line sequence is sent a total of 10 times. The 2/228 indicates there are two messages to be sent with a total group count of 228 groups. This example should have been placed just prior to the example of a 5L groups message.

Page 75/76: I suspected I was mistaken in saying that one of the links was between the Cuban relay and the Russian Embassy in Washington DC. A propagation study by my friend Jacques D'Avignon, showed that the U.S. station could very possibly be in the New York City area. This led to the belief that it was the Russian Legation at the United Nations. However, in recent years a theory has been circulating that the link is between Cuba and Managua, Nicaragua. I have not seen any supporting data for that conclusion.

A few monitors have reported they heard this activity in the early 1970's. I also heard some scattered transmissions prior to 1980 but it was not until later that I realized the relationship with my later monitoring.

During the period of roughly 1985-1987 seven callsigns were copied that were addresses for cipher traffic in an unidentified communications network. ROL, BPA, SPK, WNY, and PSN received automatic Morse code broadcasts however YBU and JMS received RTTY broadcasts. Because RTTY permits large volumes of traffic to be passed quite rapidly, this would certainly seem to be in line with the requirements of a large and active addressee.

I believed if I was correct and the network belonged to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then the addressees were Russian(Soviet at that time) Embassies and Consulates in the Western Hemisphere.

Much time was devoted to concentrated monitoring during 1991-1994. It was immediately apparent there had been more changes than I was aware of from just my occasional intercepts since 1987. All broadcasts were now in RTTY mode at speeds of 50 or 75 bauds and at a shift of 500. There were many more addressees noted and ROL was evidently no longer active. An extensive portion of the book covered the numerous findings from the increased intercept of network schedules.
Thirteen addressees were observed and this total coincided with the official Soviet posts in the Western Hemisphere.

Here is the list of the official installations:

Mexico City Mexico Embassy
New York USA-NY UN Delegation
Washington USA-DC New Embassy
Washington USA-DC Old Embassy
San Francisco USA-CA Consulate
Managua Nicaragua Embassy
San Jose Costa Rica Embassy
Buenos Aires Argentina Embassy
Montreal Canada Consulate
Ottawa Canada Embassy
Chicago Canada Consulate
Lima Peru Embassy
Panama City Panama Embassy

Operator instructions were called TIKAS and varied from notices of changes in schedules, frequencies and holiday observances. This latter was designated by special Q signal QSF. My guess was that QSF4 meant no sked; QSF2 meant normal sked; and QSF3 may perhaps mean to listen at an hour other than the usual sked time.

Over the years there have been numerous references iondicating a GRU communications site at Guineo, Cuba which is approximately 15 miles southwest of Havana. This is believed to be the relay transmitter location for the MFA traffic destidsned to indicated addressee Embassies and Consulates as well as the site for the broadcasts of Soviet agent messages.

Monitoring during August 1999 resultled in the recovery of the following network details.


UTC CALL LINK # Baud/Shift Frequency kHz
0045 GMN 00119 75/500 11636.6/9213
1515 BPA 00116 75/500 14729.5/10339
1735 KRN 00178 75/500 17415.6/14432.5
1800 WNY 00139 75/500 19086.5/14941
2000 HZW 00117 75/500 16216.5/13554
2230 JMS 00127 75/500 14842.5/13450

After publication of the book, I learned that someone had made a correction to the deciphering alphabet to be used with the final group of text of the 5L groups messages.

Cipher - A E I O P R T U W Z
Plain - 8 6 1 0 9 5 4 2 7 3

As an example UWIAP would break to 27189 which meant 27 was the date and 189 was 3 less than the preamble group count of 192. I have not figured out the significance of this group in relation to the 5th group of the heading which contains the group count plus one. I suspect the 3rd group of the heading may be counted as a textual group if it does have a crypto relationship. It would make sense for that group to be included in the actual total group count.
Every now and then, I and others have observed FSK Morse transmissions sounding like ETFNJX TKAGAS. I have also seen the TKAGAS sent as OKAGAS. It is interesting to note that quite a few of those transmissions were on frequencies utilized for broadcasts to addressee SPK. This point warrants further scruitiny. The most recent intercepts were in August 1999 and were on 14553.2 kHz at 1937 and on the same day at 1942 on 14879.6 kHz.
Since publication of the book, there have been changes in the list of official installations. The new Russian Embassy building in Washington DC has replaced the previously used facility. The Chicago Consulate has apparently been closed but there are two new Consulates. One in Seattle, WA and the other in New York City. The San Francisco Consulate remains open as does the Russian Legation at the United Nations ion New York. The Consulate and Embassy in Canada continue ion use. I am checking on the status of the remaining Russian posts ion the Western Hemisphere.

Some loggings of these communications were reported during the early 1970's but SOUD did not really get underway until the late 70's so there is doubt that the traffic was actually SOUD. Also, ion late 19905 or early 1996, SOUD was reportedly out of lbusiness, however the radio traffic has continued to date!!
Years ago I ran across callsign RCF passiong RTTY traffic to a station suspected of being the Cuban relay site to Soviet Embassies and Consulates in the Western Hemisphere.
I think the above shows that the alleged SOUD communications were not actually SOUD after all!

Large-scale changes have taken place ion the Russian Government structure. One change is that the Federal Agency for Government Communications (FAPSI) is now responsible for the handling of official traffic and forl SIGINT operations. At some locations, the SIGINT operations are jointly conducgted with the GRU.
In loggings, SWL monitors have tended to indicate FAPSI as the source identification for much of the Russian telecommunications activity. One exception being Russian agent broadcasts which are attributed to the Russian Foreign IOntelligence Service (SVR).

AUGUST LOGGINGS In frequency order (kHz) with comments and UTC time:
12194.6 (ion here) 5F grps each sent twice. Auto Morse, vy strong sig. Upon completion msg sent 485 170 293 (rptd many times) foll by 718 56 BT and into another msg. At end sentg SK SK I I I I I. 1311
14447 YL/EE w/987 987 987 count 1-0 ion AM at 2100. At 2110 ten dashes, count 147, and into text of 3d/2F grps.
14647.6 VVV DE 4XZ (prob Mossad) at 2059. Then ZK8A NR 831 TE WNC BT LK8G NR 631 HC WNC BT DA7M NR 731 AC GR 18 BT This xmsn is parallel w/18480 kHz. 2103
14930 Auto CW VVV VVV VVV 8BY 8BY 8BY 784/121/762/992/523 and rpts sequence. 2243
17416 U/i burst type sig, rptd about 30 secs later. Then hrd a weaker burst of shorter duration which may have been a response from another xmtr. 1720
18207 CLP4 DE CLP1 (Cuban Embassy Bissau, Guinea Bissau) from Havana (Cuban Ministry of Exterior Relations). CLP1 ion CW sending E's and V's foll by QSY
20410. Other end hrd on 20410 kHz and that stn sent msg at 1717.
18418.3 (in here) U/i stn ion FSK Morse sent QPP RY. Nil more hrd. 1703
19086.8 CLP7 (Cuban Embassy Brazzaville, Congo) DE CLP (Havana, MinRex). Xmtr has funny echo sound to it. CLP sent QSY 16320 and CLP7 was hrd there but vy weak. CLP then sent QSY 22010 and few secs later CLP went into RTTY 50/500 w/encrypted xmsn. 1828
Click here for index of previous editions of Radio Intrigue

1999 Don Schimmel.