For Your Safety: Counter-intelligence techniques for travelers
I hope that I have established the fact that it is prudent to take safety measures to protect yourself while traveling, domestically or internationally. Here are counter-intelligence tips to help you stay safe.
Never do anything that an individual, or team, that is watching you would consider to be suspicious. For example, using a storefront window in the terminal as a mirror to see who is behind you or walking around a corner then stopping abruptly to see if someone you suspect follows you. Such techniques are taught as Counter Intel 101 but should be avoided in the world of professional “tails.”
If you are traveling for business reasons, or personal reasons for that matter, do not try to be cool and play “spook games” with foreign intelligence services. They will quickly see what you are doing and judge you as an easier target than they originally thought! You would be asking for trouble. You can be highly aware without looking stupid.
Also, airport parking lots frequently take a picture of your license plate when you enter the lot. This has become rather standard procedure in the USA. This can be a giveaway regarding your length of how long you are away. Business travelers, consider hiring a taxi.
If you are surrounded by people at the check-in counter who can overhear you talking, talk softly and present your reservations or itinerary face down to the clerk. Also, it is a good idea to purchase a plain passport wallet that covers the outside front cover of your passport; thus, hiding your country of origin. Again, Americans are prime targets for numerous crimes.
Be careful of identifying yourself on your luggage tags. Suggestions are to tie a colored ID ribbon onto your luggage rather than using a business card with all of your contacts shown on it. Personal travelers, NEVER attach a luggage ID tag showing your home address! As previously stated, leave your clothing emblazoned with your employer’s name/logo at home. This applies to American flag pins and national patches as well. Get on the “air side” of the terminal as quickly as possible.
Field tradecraft is an art that can take years to master. Try to look like an everyday traveler, not someone special! The best advice I can give you is to try to look, and be ... boring!
More to come next week.
K.H. Kraft has over 40 years of affiliations with Intelligence and Police organizations. Sources for these articles are decades of personal experience and numerous official manuals.