8
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(Please keep in mind that you can ignore all of Comey's comments and just focus on the messages and clues.)

The phone rings, and you turn down your music. It's Comey from the FBI.

Comey - "Look, I know I shouldn't ask, but we need your help. We think there's information hidden in some messages found on devices belonging to known dangerous criminals. We also know from other sources coordinated around the U.S. that there is an imminent attack somewhere on U.S. soil. We know the time, we just don't know the place. I've sent them to you along with some photos as well. And, there was a body too."

Instructions are forthcoming. We need you to coordinate your team and proceed to Lincoln Park to the playground. There, beneath the sand, you can get the ordnant's graphs and specs in the center of the geodome. Return to your vehicle putting it in reverse gear, momentarily, then proceed to the hotel. To avoid encounters with your alternate team, you must not go out at two, five, or seven.

Comey - "So, my guys tell me they were nowhere near Lincoln Park. Video footage shows no one in the area at the time of that message. But take a look at this photo of the dead guy's hand; it has written on it, thirty three, forty one, sixty one, and sixty six.

33 41 61 66
DeadMansHand

Comey - "The second message was sent sometime later. I know you've probably already seen the acrostic message in the last two sentences. We don't know if it's indicative of more or not, but we don't see more to it."

You're being sent forward to the recon zone. The school sits just north of the objective. It's negative only on a flare signal you would see overhead. This is for your brothers, and for our homeland. When it is time, there can be NO hesitation and zero tolerance for those that would try to stop you. Avoid your fellow brothers until then at three, five, and six. At long last, a holy unity. Always keep brothers and resist.

Comey - "Oh, and, we found this taped to his phone."

F E OZ OO ON TZ TS FF FS
JohnColtrane

Comey - "We are counting on you to find their reconnaissance point and the target. I gotta go, but, on a personal note, I apologize again that we weren't able to find space for you here at the bureau... yet! Have faith though, I'm working on it."

Hint:

One could potentially solve the puzzle with only the second message and phone cover. The first message, unaffiliated with the phone cover, is a simple message that conveys a detail about the contents of the second message.

Word:

Use the directional operative word (within the messages) to count.

Hint:

Note the geo-graphy tag.

Hint:

How about a mask? ##.##, -###.##

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4
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The target is:

Vivint Smart Home Arena (where the Utah Jazz play), with the recon zone being the college to the north.

F E OZ OO ON TZ TS FF FS

This refers to the first letters of digits. Z=0, O=1, etc.
F, T and S are ambiguous though, which is where the numbers in the messages come in.

The first message:

you must not go out at two, five, or seven. This implies for the first message, T=3, F=4, S=6. So we have:
4 8 10 11 19 30 36 44 46

The second message:

Avoid your fellow brothers until then at three, five, and six. This implies for the second message, T=2, F=4, S=7. So we have:
4 8 10 11 19 20 27 44 47

Decryption:

The presence of the acronym in the second message suggests that the first letters of words might be important. The numbers above refer to word indices. In the first message, this gives "wctatsgrm", in the second, "fzssooonz". The second is more interesting because it itself follows the same digit-letter mapping. Decoding with the second set of numbers (2-4-7), we get 407711190.

Location:

Now that we have the numbers, we can treat them as coordinates, as contributed by @Sleafar.

40.77, 111.90

It could be that "it's negative only on a flare signal you would see overhead" should be taken as a hint that one of the coordinates is negative. Either way only 40.77, -111.90 lies in the U.S. as we know the objective to be.

Looking at Google Maps, this is in Salt Lake City, in a building of LDS Business College. As we have the phrase "the school sits just north of the objective", this implies that the Arena to the south is the target, and the school is the recon zone.

I'm still curious as to what the first message, including the numbers on the hand, was meant to convey; that is not part of this answer.

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  • $\begingroup$ @ MarkPeters, that was all completely right. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 10 '16 at 2:50
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    $\begingroup$ Combining your result from the second message with the last hint gives this. $\endgroup$ – Sleafar Aug 17 '16 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Sleafar: Nice job; I had looked at a few interpretations of the lat/long earlier but didn't come up with this one for some reason. You should post the final answer! $\endgroup$ – Mark Peters Aug 17 '16 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ You have already done most of the work, so simply add it to your answer. $\endgroup$ – Sleafar Aug 17 '16 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ @MarkPeters, so, welcome back! And that is the correct answer. When you got "fzssooonz" (I thought you had it!), you were counting the words and taking the first letter of the word. In the sentence structure, the periods would have been in the right spot for the decimals, and the "negative" wording would have preceded the second/longitude coordinate. So, that was perfect, but I hoped the sentence would provide the mask. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 17 '16 at 21:02

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