Spy Tips on the Caribbean, Scouting, Flares, and more…
Low-tech explosives may be clumsy and unreliable, but their simplicity makes them almost impossible to trace. Sophisticated bombs, on the other hand, are more effective but require expertise and specialized components, which means the more lethal the bomb, the more you know about the man who wants you dead.
There’s a reason that everyone from 17th-century pirates to present-day drug smugglers have operated in the Caribbean. It’s filled with tiny islands that are close to major ports but outside the reach of national laws. That said, the privacy that makes the islands great hiding places also makes them vulnerable. Your enemies may be able to hide from you, but you can hide from them just as easily.
Properly scouting a facility’s security is a two-step process. Observing the outside will tell you about its physical defenses, but to get a complete picture of your target’s manpower and security protocols, you need to get inside their walls, too.
Spies have long known it’s a good idea to bring along a fast-acting drug when you’re targeting someone for extraction. In the earliest days of espionage, that meant a rag soaked in chloroform or ether, but now it’s usually a syringe of propofol. It works quicker and has fewer side effects but shares one downside with its predecessors, you still have to get close to your target to administer the dose.
When you find yourself in a tough situation, like being outnumbered 20 to 1< on an island crawling with mercenaries, it’s important to remember that the key to any battle is intelligence. It may be tempting to shoot first and ask questions later, but if you want to stay alive, you ask questions first.
Destroying high-tech electronics with glorified camping equipment is tough but not impossible. The mix of nitrate and magnesium in a marine flare burns at over 3,000 degrees. With the right fuse, it’ll turn an electrical system into a smoldering heap.
To hit a facility directly, you just need a gun and the willingness to use it. Less-bloody approaches require fewer bullets but more planning. And more recruiting.
Getting stuck behind enemy lines is one of the hazards of being a spy. When it happens, you can either hide in the shadows and wait to get killed or you can march into the open and take your enemy head-on. It’s a game of high risk, high reward. Play it right, and you might survive.
When you’re pretending to be on the same side as your enemy, it’s critical to keep them from talking. The more the bad guys can compare notes, the more likely they’ll second-guess your story. That’s why you shut down as many forms of communication as you can. It won’t make you any friends, but friends are a luxury when you’re trying to stay alive.
The quickest way to turn a security force’s attention away from an outside attack is to make them think there’s an even bigger threat inside their facility. If you know which employees will be out of town, you can send a care package filled with metallic sodium to an empty office.
Then all you have to do is set off the company’s sprinkler system with a smoke bomb. If you do it right, the sodium will react with the water, and you’ve got the distraction you need.
As a general rule, spies prefer to steal information quietly. It’s a lot easier to pay off an informant, hack a computer, or crack a safe than it is to grab something from someone who’s armed and angry. But like any job, some days are just harder than others.
When you’re being interrogated in the field, it’s not about holding out. Field interrogations tend to be quick and dirty and often end with a bullet to the head. The key to surviving is a good offense. When you take a swing to save your life, you swing for the fences.
For a spy, getting someone to lie for you serves a number of purposes. It’s less about the lie itself, no matter how useful it is. It’s about how it changes your relationship with your target. Once a guy lies for you, for better or for worse, your fates are tied together.
Like good defense attorneys, spies know the facts don’t always matter as much as how you sell them. Only when lawyers lose a case, they get an appeal. When spies lose a case, they get a shallow grave.
Disarming people by force is bloody and unpleasant. Sometimes it’s easier to put on a smile and just ask.