Following the gruesome killing of journalist James Foley on Tuesday, the search is on for his killer – as well as anyone involved in the act. According to experts, digital voice analysis technology could play a role in tracking him down.
A U.S. law enforcement source told FoxNews that a forensic “drill down” is under way to find the killer. By analyzing every aspect of the Foley beheading video, authorities may happen upon a lead and be able to identify the killer from FBI databases of known or suspected terrorists. In particular, the killer’s accent, which appears to be British, may help them hone in on him and his fellow ISIS agents.
Dr. Afzal Ashraf, consultant fellow in international diplomacy at the Royal United Services Institute, told Fox News that voice analysis could help lead to the killer:
“Linguistic technology is very good nowadays at matching voice characteristics,” Ashraf said. “If [the killer] has got a criminal background, there’s a very good chance that he could have been interviewed by police.”
If so, investigators could compare the voice on the Foley video with those from interview archives, much like facial recognition technology enables them to look for visual matches.
Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King's College London, said it’s more likely that investigators will narrow down a field of suspects by scouring social media.
Neumann said like most Western militants in Syria, the British terrorist will likely have a Facebook or Twitter account. There, he might give clues to his identity, such as his height, weight and eye color, or even his favorite sports team:
"Just because they are Islamic extremists and behead people doesn't meant they don't talk about football clubs," he said.
Luckily, we live in an age where advanced technology can help drill down on forensic evidence with greater detail than ever before. Here's hoping that investigators can leverage that technology to quickly identify Foley's killer, before anyone else is harmed.