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Entries in Terrorism (20)

Thursday
Aug212014

Voice Recognition Technology Could Lead to Journalist's ISIS Killer

Photo credit: FreeJamesFoley.org

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.

Thursday
Apr182013

Crowdsourcing to Identify Boston Bombing Suspects

Photo credit: 4chan via ImgurInvestigators in Boston have been studying video images, hoping to find those behind the marathon attacks on Monday.  

According to news reports, the investigators may have found two potential suspects, each shown carrying black bags near the two bombing sites in video images. 

4chan Think Tank has posted photos on Imgur to show how crowdsourcing is used to identify potential suspects.

Monday
Oct312011

Airlines' Checked-bag Fees: Bad for Security?

Checked-bag fees aren't just a financial hassle--according to the director of the Transportation Security Administration, they may also be compromising the safety of U.S. flights.

John Pistole on Friday explained during a speech that checked-bag fees only encourage passengers to overpack their carry-on bags. Often, he said, these bags are so densely packed that TSA's imaging machines cannot see into them to detect harmful objects.

“It’s harder to inspect what’s in there,” Pistole said. “When you hear about things getting through security, that’s part of the reason why.”

On top of that concern, the U.S. Travel Association earlier this year expressed worry over checked-bag fees' effect on the security screen line. The more passengers with overly packed carry-on bags, the longer the security line--and the less time TSA officers have for screening everyone else.

Tell us what you think: Do the checked-bag fees have an effect on security? Or are they just maddening?

Thursday
Oct132011

'Remora' Weaponized UAV is Dropped From Larger UAV

Unmanned aerial devices aren't just getting more common. They're also getting smarter.

Case in point: The Remora, which is a small UAV that attaches to a larger UAV and can be deployed upon command. It's pretty much a small, weaponized remote-controlled airplane bomb.

Remoras can be attached to larger drones, such as the Predator, and separated when the target is within range. Once the operator "dislodges" the Remora from its mothership, it's remotely controlled by a pilot until the target is reached.

The first generation of Remoras are relatively large. But perhaps one day Remoras will have Remoras of their own--and the skies will be filled with UAVs.

Thursday
Sep292011

Can Criminals Be Recognized By The Way They Walk?

We've all heard of facial recognition being used to identify potential criminals. (Heck, some researchers are even using nose shape as an identifier.) But this is the first time I've read about "gait recognition" software.

Chris Bregler, a professor at New York University, is heading up a team that is exploring if security threats can be detected by looking for people's unique patterns of movement. How, for example, might someone walk if he or she is carrying a heavy bomb in a briefcase? Much differently than someone wearing high heels or a man who simply weighs more and has grown accustomed to balancing that weight.

During their research, Bregler's team used motion-capture technology (the same kind used in Harry Potter) to ID certain movement "signatures." Using that info, they are creating software, called GreenDot, that can detect people's motion signature--as well as their emotional state, cultural background and more.

Although the research has a long way to go--it may be up to 10 years before authorities are able to spot criminals from afar using this type of technology--the possibilities are fascinating.

Of course, this is the type of research that often gets privacy advocates up in arms. So, what do you think? Is "gait recognition" simply too much? Or is it just what we need to protect ourselves from suicide bombers and other criminals?