AI Tools Located Long-Sought Militant Suspect in Minutes

Arrest of Daniela Klette perhaps not such a 'masterpiece' for German police
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2024 2:57 PM CST
AI Tools Located Long-Sought Militant Suspect in Minutes
Berlin police officers stand in front of the apartment of Daniela Klette, a suspected former member of the left-wing militant Red Army Faction group, in Berlin Friday, March 1, 2024.   (Fabian Sommer/dpa via AP)

German police said this week's arrest of Daniela Klette, a long-hunted alleged militant hiding in Berlin, was a "masterpiece." Journalists, however, weren't quite sure where the extraordinary skill factored in—unless it came from themselves. "What was their success? Listening to a podcast?" a reporter quipped at a news conference, challenging the narrative that police were to be credited, per the New York Times. As the Times and Reuters reports, months before Monday's arrest, a podcast team managed to track down Klette, on the run from police for 30 years, in about 30 minutes using facial recognition software.

In December, German public broadcaster ARD released "Legion: Most Wanted," a two-part documentary podcast about the search for Klette. During reporting, the podcast team had reached out to Bellingcat investigative journalist Michael Colborne, asking that he put photos of Klette into publicly available image search tools powered by artificial intelligence. The tools returned images posted to Facebook, believed to show the same woman, now going by the name "Claudia Ivone," living in Berlin and active in its Afro-Brazilian scene. The podcast team said they reached out to police to check the finding. Police previously said they were led to Klette through a tip from the public in November, around the time the journalists were at work.

It's unclear if this was the tipoff. Asked for the source of the tip Thursday, a prosecutor said "we make no disclosures about our detection methods," per Reuters. But as Colborne tells the Times, it's concerning that a Canadian man who doesn't speak German was able to find one of Germany's most wanted terrorist suspects "in like literally 30 minutes." Some argue police have their hands tied by Germany's strict data protection laws, which limit the use of AI-powered investigative tools. There are other factors to consider, too, including the risk to police. After initially claiming no guns were found in Klette's apartment, police announced Thursday that a hand grenade, grenade launcher, and Kalashnikov machine gun were discovered, per the Times. (More artificial intelligence stories.)

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