Left with fuzzy clues, Shin Bet used computer-generated composite to find terrorist
Israeli security forces were scrambling to find the terrorist who opened fire on a busy Tel Aviv bar on Thursday and then seemed to just disappear.
Their first break came when Ra’ad Hazem was spotted in security footage walking near the Ilka bar, where he ultimately killed three people and wounded a dozen more.
But the footage was too blurry to give the hundreds of police, military and Shin Bet officers a clear picture of the man they were hunting.
That’s when the Shin Bet’s technology team stepped in, according to a Channel 12 report on Friday night, to build a clear picture of Hazem.
The agents used a combination of intelligence information, photo processing technology and artificial intelligence to build an image that the security forces could use.
The report noted that it is also possible that they used facial recognition technology and existing pictures of Hazaem, however, reports have indicated that Hazem did not have a record with Israeli authorities.
Once the grainy image had been sharpened up into a clear picture, it was quickly distributed to all those taking part in the manhunt.
Hazem from Jenin in the northern West Bank, was killed by officers from the Yamam police counter-terrorism unit and Shin Bet security service after he was found hiding near a mosque in Jaffa, some 3.5 miles from the scene of his deadly attack.
According to the Shin Bet, Hazem did not have a “clear organizational affiliation” or any criminal record.
According to Hebrew media reports, two Shin Bet officers drove to the mosque to search the area.
Once they arrived, they found a suspicious-looking individual who matched Hazem’s description. Two of the officers got out of the car and ordered him to surrender.
While initially raising his hands in surrender, Hazem reportedly then drew a gun and opened fire on the officers, who fired back and killed him.
“After a long, difficult night of activity by the police, Shin Bet and IDF, we succeeded this morning — with operational and intelligence cooperation — to close the circle and kill the terrorist in an exchange of fire,” Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said Friday morning.
“We emphasized last night that no matter how long it took we would find the terrorist, dead or alive,” Shabtai said. “And when we found him this morning it required a quick reaction from the Yamam and Shin Bet forces in Jaffa.”
“We operated along two main paths, operational and intelligence, and this morning both led to the end of this rolling operation.”
The Friday Channel 12 report also said that the Shin Bet believes that Hazem planned to carry out another attack, citing the fact that there were 10 bullets left in the magazine of his gun when he was killed.
It’s unclear whether the conclusion is based on the existence of the remaining bullets alone, as the fact that he hid out and did not carry out a second attack would appear to undercut the assessment.