Police boss says image of Hamas ‘fighter’ in Londonderry ‘could be AI generated’

An image of a person dressed as a Hamas fighter during a Halloween event in Northern Ireland may have been generated by artificial intelligence, the chief constable has said.

Police are investigating a report of the costume following the circulation of an image on social media which appeared to show a person in the Guildhall Square in Londonderry dressed in a uniform with ‘HAMAS’ spelt on it.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s interim chief constable Jon Boutcher said he been made aware of a suggestion it could have been generated by artificial intelligence.

“None of our police officers saw anybody in that outfit. Nobody has made a complaint to either the staff who were stewarding or security for the event, and the event took place over three or four days,” he told a meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

“There is no trace of it whatsoever, and there has been a suggestion made to me – and this will be interesting if this is the case – that it might even have been some sort of artificial intelligence image that was presented and has been circulated.

“I don’t know at the moment, I can’t give you an answer on that, but that was the suggestion last night.

“The officers were very alive to the irresponsibility and the potential criminality of somebody dressing like that.

“At the moment we can’t find any witnesses or anybody saying that someone was walking around dressed like that during the events of Halloween so the jury is out on that.”

Meanwhile, in a statement Derry City and Strabane District Commander Chief Superintendent Nigel Goddard said they have made a “number of enquiries” in relation to the image.

“These enquiries to establish if the image is genuine have included a public appeal and a check of city centre CCTV,” he said.

“As of today, Thursday November 2, we have not had any reports of anyone seeing this person in Guildhall Square dressed in this way, or found any other images online.

“At this time, and while I remain open-minded, with the checks we have conducted, with no other sightings reported to us from members of the public or from police officers on duty reporting seeing this person, I believe this is a fake image.

“Whatever the intention of this image was, it serves as a timely reminder that not everything online is as it seems.”

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