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FBI’s ‘cutting edge’ photo of bin Laden doctored from Spain lawmaker’s portrait

By Sahil Kapur
Tuesday, January 19, 2010 11:16 EDT
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WASHINGTON — The FBI says it uses “cutting-edge” technologies to develop age-processed photos of suspected terrorists. As it turns out, the technique they used to come up with Osama bin Laden’s modern portrait was essentially to digitally alter a Spanish lawmaker’s mug shot and paste a beard and turban onto it.

The image was published on the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice Program” Web site last week, offering a reward of $25 million to whoever captures the Al-Qaeda chief.

The FBI has admitted to its transgression and US Ambassador to Spain, Alan Solomont, personally apologized to Gaspar Llamazares of the nation’s United Left party. But the lawmaker isn’t having any of it.

“Apologies are not enough,” he told reporters, and has suggested he might take legal action against the US government as he now feels unsafe traveling to the country.

“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,” he said, adding he wants assurances the image is no longer being used by intelligence or airport officials.

The original image of Llamazares was taken from his 2004 election campaign posters, The Associated Press reports. The State Department has since removed it from its Web site.

“Most likely an unknown citizen on stepping into an airport would have received a good fright, if not something worse,” Llamazares said. “If this is how security against terrorism is guaranteed, whose hands are we in?”

ABC News reported on Thursday that the “enhanced” image of Al-Qaeda’s top leader was created by FBI “Forensic Artists” using “sophisticated digital enhancement techniques.”

Llamazares accused the FBI of using his hair to develop a photo of another suspected terrorist, Libya’s Atiyah Abd al-Rahman.

This video is from The Associated Press and uploaded to YouTube on Jan. 18, 2010.

 
 
 
 
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