Archive for January 19th, 2010


Cutting edge technology? Na, try Google.

Last week, the FBI published fresh photographs of Osama bin Laden in an effort to track down the Al Qaeda leader and ideologue. In the first “age progressed” mug shot, the Guardian reported, “Forensic artists used digital enhancement to modify Bin Laden’s features in an attempt to show what he might now look like.”

At first glance, it looked like OBL was either badly in need of sunlight or prescribed to the same skin regimen as the late Michael Jackson [RIP, MJ]. Turns out that “digital enhancement” was just the product of really, really ridiculously good Googling.

Gasper Llamazares

According to news agencies yesterday, the mocked up image of OBL was withdrawn by the State Department after the FBI “admitted it was partly based on a photograph of a Spanish MP taken from the internet.” The intelligence agency reportedly updated the bin Laden photo using the grey hair, jaw line and forehead of politician Gaspar Llamazares, a member of Spain’s Communist party. Ken Hoffman, an FBI spokesman told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, “The forensic artist was unable to find suitable features among the reference photographs and obtained those features, in part, from a photograph he found on the internet.”


According to Times Online, “Llamazares intends to ask the U.S. government for an explanation and is considering legal action.” He clarified at a news conference that he has “no similarity, physically or ideologically, to Bin Laden.” On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that the lawmaker rejected the U.S.-issued apology for the mix-up, telling reporters, “I want a thorough investigation into this disgraceful case, which not only causes concern but also worry and indignation over the behavior of the FBI.”

Turns out not all intelligence is intelligent. Go figure.

With reports that Tehreek-e-Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud was injured in a drone strike last week in South Waziristan, I hope the aforementioned “cutting edge” technology won’t be used to prove this development. Because it may look a little like this:

Fake Hakimullah.

Real Hakimullah.

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