Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Little to work on, but Army labors to analyze video

By John Yaukey
Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Army is combining advanced video analysis with information from intelligence agencies in its efforts to identify a man Iraqi radicals executed on video.

The Arab TV network Al-Jazeera obtained the video Monday with a statement claiming the man being executed was Spc. Keith "Matt'' Maupin, a Union Township resident missing since April 9 when his fuel-truck convoy was attacked in western Baghdad.

"It's not just one agency looking at the video," said Army Lt. Col. Pamela Hart, a Pentagon-based spokeswoman. "It's a collaborative effort. We analyze a variety of security and intelligence data."

Tools available include digital and audio enhancement and voice analysis, along with intelligence from several agencies studying the insurgency in Iraq and the larger network of Middle Eastern terrorists.

Depending on video quality, analysts are capable of scouring images for minute details such as traditional or tribal patterns in cloth, small scars and other physical characteristics as well as indications of location, time and climate.

But these usually reveal only clues. Proof is a different story.

In this case, agencies have little to work with, and thus Maupin's status with the Army remains "captured" as it has been since April 16 when he appeared alive on a videotape broadcast on Arabic television.

The execution video was shot from behind a man whose face does not appear.

According to Al-Jazeera, gunmen shot the man in the back of the head while he was near a hole in the ground.

With little to work with, Hart said positive identification is extremely difficult.

Maupin was serving with the Army Reserve's 724th Transportation Company out of Bartonville, Ill.


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