By Parth Bhide
The story of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 turned dark today. A statement released by the Federal Bureau of Investigations warned Americans to be increasingly cautious of any packages they receive by mail or courier. According to the statement released on their website and on Twitter this morning, the FBI believes that several shipments of recalled Galaxy Note 7 phones have been taken or otherwise diverted by unknown agents. The statement continues to claim that intelligence suggests high-profile terrorist organizations have plans to send these phones through US mail to a multitude of places of residence and of business.
We spoke with FBI spokeswoman Angela Thompson, who detailed the full threat that may be posed by these phones. “While the number of corrupt devices are limited,” she said, “we believe that it is possible to ‘overcharge’ them to become a semi-reliable weapon.” Thompson continued to say that not only the Islamic State, but other organizations like Korean People’s Army Special Operation Force and, for some reason, the Irish Republican Army may find use for these mail-bombs.
The Postmaster General released a statement shortly after claiming that employees are now instructed to more thoroughly inspect packaging, but privacy laws prevent outright asking a customer about the contents of his/her package. Given that many phones of all kinds are shipped regularly, it is difficult to screen packages for errant phones. The Postmaster General has also asked that President Obama require that all phone companies ship phones with minimal to no electrical charge to aid in screening out live phones.
We also reached out to Samsung concerning these recent developments. While the theft and redirecting of phone shipments could not be discussed, as it was under an active federal investigation, Samsung did say they intend to fully cooperate with the investigation and to take better care in transporting their remaining phones to off-site locations. The Samsung representative, Gabriel Ramirez, had no comment concerning the ability of terror groups to reliably weaponize the Galaxy Note 7.
Finally, we spoke with Dr. Kilter Andreevich, an Electrical Engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following an extremely long lecture on the physics of electrostatic storage (which required several whiteboards and a crack team of experts to decode), he demonstrated that specially charging the phone would effectively destroy the phone’s functionality and would, roughly 20% of the time, result in an approximately one-day delay to a catastrophic overload of the phone’s capacitors, causing the characteristic explosion.
In light of the news, President Obama, U.S. Department of Justice, Homeland Security, and Customs and Border Protection have increased their presence in attempting to track missing shipments. Citizens have been advised to cooperate with all law-enforcement officers investigating these thefts. Anyone with any knowledge is asked to call law enforcement and report his or her findings.
Residents have been asked to open all packages extremely carefully. Be sure to heavily pad all sensitive tissue regions such as the genital areas, mammary tissue, and brain tissue before opening any packaging. We will keep you updated as this story progresses.