Forty-fourth edition of the N&O column / Spooks newsletter

(Date: Sat, 05 Jan 2002 22:21:20 +0100)

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Intelligence profile : Cuba

General

Country: Republica de Cuba [Cuba]

Capital: Habana [Havana]

Geographic coordinates: 21.30N, 80.00W

Administrative divisions:
14 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Cienfuegos, Ciudad de La Habana, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, La Habana, Las Tunas, Matanzas, Pinar del Rio, Sancti Spiritus, Santiago de Cuba, Villa Clara, and 1 special municipality (municipio especial) Isla de la Juventud.

Military branches:

Intelligence agencies:

Notes:

Intelligence agencies

The principal intelligence collection arms of the Cuban government are the Directorate General of Intelligence (DGI) of Ministry of the Interior, and the Military Counter intelligence Department of the Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces. Both have been closely associated with the Soviet and Russian intelligence services.

America Department (DA)
former National Liberation Directorate (DLN)

Operated by the Central Committee Communist Party of Cuba

The DA has control over covert Cuban activities for supporting foreign liberation movements and coordinating Cuba's secret guerrilla and terrorist training camps, networks for the covert movement of personnel and material from Cuba, and a propaganda apparatus.

The DA is organized into four regional sections: Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and North America, as well as a Center for Latin American Studies (CEAL) and a Center for North American Studies (CEA). Covers used by DA staff include diplomats, Cuba's Prensa Latina news agency, Cubana Airlines, the Institute for Friendship With the Peoples (ICAP), and Cuban-front companies. DA is reportedly the most powerful of Cuban's security agencies.

Directorate General of Intelligence (DGI)

Operated by the Ministry of the Interior

The General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI) was established under the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) in late 1961. The new agency included three Liberation Committees - for the Caribbean, Central America, and South America - collectively known as the Liberation Directorate (DL). In the early 1960's, the agency also was responsible for supporting liberation movements in Africa. Nowadays the DGI is responsible for foreign intelligence collection. The DGI has six divisions divided into two categories of roughly equal size: the Operational Divisions and the Support Divisions.

The operational divisions include the Political/Economic Intelligence Division, the External Counter intelligence Division, and the Military Intelligence Division. The Political Economic Intelligence Division consists of four sections: Africa-Asia-Latin America, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and North America. The External Counter intelligence Division is responsible for penetrating foreign intelligence services and the surveillance of exiles.

The support divisions include the Technical Support Division, the Information Division, and the Preparation Division. The Technical Support Division is responsible for production of false documents, communications systems supporting clandestine operations, and development of clandestine message capabilities. The Information and Preparation Divisions are responsible for intelligence analysis functions.

Cuba is considered by the United States to be a sponsor of international terrorism and has worked closely with Puerto Rican separatist and Latin American terrorist groups. Much of this activity has been handled through the DGI.

Military Counter intelligence Department

Operated by the Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces

The Military Intelligence Department collects information on the U.S. Armed Forces and coordinates SIGINT operations with the Russians at Lourdes. The Military Counter intelligence Department is responsible for conducting counter intelligence, SIGINT, and electronic warfare activities against the United States.

La Red Avispa (Wasp Network)

Probably operated by the DGI.

La Red Avispa was considered the most daring attempt by Cuba to penetrate the Cuban exiles community in the USA. The network operated mainly in Florida until the FBI busted the agents in August 1998.

Other agencies:

Lourdes

The Lourdes Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) facility is located at 23.00.01N 82.28.56W

Cuba has an agreement with Russia which allows Moscow to maintain a signals intelligence facility near Havana at Lourdes, which is the largest Russian SIGINT site abroad. The strategic location of Lourdes makes it ideal for gathering intelligence on the United States. The Lourdes facility is reported to cover a 28 square-mile area with some 1,000-1,500 Russian engineers, technicians, and military personnel working at the base. The SIGINT facility at Lourdes is among the most significant intelligence collection capabilities targeting the United States. This facility, less than 100 miles from Key West, is one of the largest and most sophisticated SIGINT collection facilities in the world. It is jointly operated by Russian military intelligence (GRU), the Federal Agency for Government Communications (FAPSI), and Cuba's intelligence services. The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) also has a communications center at the facility for its agent network in the Americas.

The complex is capable of monitoring a wide array of commercial and government communications throughout the southeastern United States, and between the USA and Europe. Lourdes intercepts transmissions from microwave towers in the USA, communication satellite downlinks, and a wide range of shortwave and high-frequency radio transmissions. It also serves as a mission ground station and analytical facility supporting Russian SIGINT satellites.

To the utter horror of many Russian military and intelligence officers, Russian president Putin recently announced that Russia will shut down Lourdes shortly.

Sources:

Associated numbers stations

[excerpts from various items that appeared in previous N&O issues]

Voice stations [V02 & V02a]

The Atencion stations are most probably the easiest numbers station to hear in North America. While transmissions have been heard at all hours, the most common times are from 0000-1200Z. Frequencies generally range from 4-12 MHz, although higher and lower frequencies have been used in the past.

Transmissions are always in Spanish. Transmissions are often of a poor technical quality, with hum and other noise frequently present. It is also not uncommon to hear other audio mixing into the numbers transmis- sion, usually identified as Radio Havana Cuba, which does give away the transmitting location.

In the past, most transmissions used to repeat at H+30 many kHz up or down in frequency. This is not the case anymore, transmissions always begin on the hour. Well - they're supposed to. The Atencion stations are [in]famous for their technical glitches. It is not uncommon for there to be a few false starts before the transmission finally gets going.

Morse stations [M08 & M08a]

M08 is V02's morse sister and has also been very active during the past years. Like V02, M08 used various formats in the past. The current format is the same as V02a. As a result V02a's morse sister is coded M08a. It was originally coded as M86.

M08(a) uses the following cut numbers:

A=1 N=2 D=3 U=4 W=5 R--6 1=7 G=8 M=9 T=0

Formats

These are the formats that have been used by the Cuban 'Atencion' stations. Format 2 is rare, but still in use today. Formats 6 and 8 are currently used by V02a and M08a.

In the past, a CW "ID" was often heard at the beginning of a voice transmission. It was "DE ? HI" which, 'translated' from CW into English, means 'Origin unknown, ha ha'.

Format 1: [V02 obsolete]
Atencion 485 31 Repeated for several minutes
47383 59393 10322 93984 29494... Message, in this case 31 groups
Final Final Used to be "Adios" years ago
Format 2: [V02 still in use, rare]
Atencion 823 01 Repeated for several minutes
01 45 Repeated for one minute
47383 59393 10322 93984 29494... Message, in this case 45 groups
Final Final  
Format 3: [V02 obsolete]
Atencion 237 01 32 Repeated for several minutes
32 Repeated for one minute
47383 59393 10322 93984 29494... Message, in this case 32 groups
Final Final  

Format 4: [V02 obsolete]

Atencion Repeated three times
643 23 Repeated once
47383 59393 10322 93984 29494... Message, in this case 23 groups
Final Final Final  

(this format was only observed on live transmissions)

Format 5: [V02 obsolete]
Atencion 65848 Repeated for several minutes
65848 150 Repeated
47383 59393 10322 93984 29494... Message, always 150 groups
Final Final (two or three finals)
Format 6: [V02a]
Atencion 72303 51781 41592 3 minutes, msg# 72303 51781 41592
72303 Repeated 5x
03832 13983 79833... First message, always 150 groups
51781 Repeated 5x
04383 34932 88939... Second message, always 150 groups
41592 Repeated 5x
49393 63832 12393... Third message, always 150 groups
final final final End of transmission
Format 7: [M08 obsolete]
ADMNN 3 minutes, msg# ADMNN (occasionally two or three messages were sent)
ADMNN AWT = = = Msg# + group count (AWT = 150)
AUMUD NUTMD... AR AR AR Message, 150 groups
SK SK SK End of transmission
Format 8: [M08a]
ADMNN TIURA GWDUD 3 minutes, msg# ADMNN TIURA GWDUD
ADMNN = = = Repeated 5x
AUMUD NUTMD... AR AR AR First message, always 150 groups
TIURA = = = Repeated 5x
WRGTA DDNAW... AR AR AR Second message, always 150 groups
GWDUD = = = Repeated 5x
NDURR GWART... AR AR AR Third message, always 150 groups
SK SK SK End of transmission

 

Additional remarks re formats 6 and 8:

The last figure/letter in the message header represents the number of times a message has been sent. This is usually an A(1), N(2) or D(3).

Examples:

ADMNN TIURA GWDUD or in digits: 13922 07461 85343, meaning that message 1392 has been sent twice, message 0746 has been sent once, and message 8534 has three times been aired.

The bored man [V20]

This obscure station was famous for it's announcer. The man sounded extremely bored. Not so strange when you have to repeat a sequence of numbers for half an hour. The transmissions were always live and because of this, you could hear background noises, voices and mistakes. Compared to other Spanish speaking stations, this one sounded very sloppy. This raises the question 'was it an official Cuban operation or not'? It didn't sound like any other Cuban station. The odd thing is however that the transmissions stopped after the August 1998 FBI bust of the largest Cuban spy-network, La Red Avispa, or Wasp Network, along with some associated CW networks. La Red Avispa was considered the most daring attempt by Cuba to penetrate the Cuban exiles community in the USA. The Avispa network may have had a communications center of its own, which could explain the difference. Given the short messages the transmissions could have been a flag for agents to check their dead drops.

After 'Atencion Atencion Atencion', the Bored Man would repeat a one-character, 3-letter string like 'R290' three times then count from 1 to 10 in Spanish, and repeat the entire sequence for 30 minutes, two broadcasts per week.

The babbler [V21]

The 'babbler' babbles a sequence of numbers, or more accurately a sequence of numeric fields, repeated, with some fields changing a bit each cycle typically. It's not unlike the Russian Air Defense CW equivalent, but chanted by a voice instead of keyed. The stations are most active during the Cuban days. These stations are said to be Cuban Air Defense stations.

Sources:
Chris Smolinski, Mark Slaten, Albert, Simon Mason, John Maky, ENIGMA, WUN, Spooks list.


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Intelligence profile : Cuba | Logs
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