Argenteuil, France — Fayçal Ziraoui loves good challenges. As a teenager, he designed 3D animation. In 2018 he completed the Ironman race. Recently, we have developed virtual reality software that allows you to experience life in a space capsule.
“I have never put a limit on what I can learn,” Ziraoui, a 38-year-old business consultant in Morocco, France, said in an interview at his home in Argenteuil, a suburb of Paris.
So when Jiraui stumbled French magazine article In December, he said that no one had resolved the two codes that resulted from the Zodiac Killer that terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s and 1970s, and wondered, “Why not me?”
Cryptography has long puzzled cryptographers, law enforcement agencies, and amateur detectives obsessed with crypto-loving serial killers. After half a century of research failure, many believed that the identity of the Zodiac Killer remained a mystery forever. Many detectives who claim to have solved the mystery through various techniques over the decades have uncovered their theory.
However, two weeks after embarking on the quest, Ziraoui used the encryption key and creative code-breaking technology that was first revealed in December to identify the remaining two ciphers (the murderer’s identity). He said he had cracked (including the code to reveal).
Excited, he started posting message And video “Online in some of the dozens of forums called:Zodiac Killer — Unsolved & UnforgettableIn, tens of thousands of amateur keyboard detectives track and discuss details of one of the most notorious serial murder mysteries in US history, including two codes known as Z32 and Z13.
It didn’t take long for him to stir up an online community dedicated to this case, which is large and now angry.
One of his posts was deleted by a moderator on a site. On other sites, his theory was criticized by those who questioned his credibility and findings.
“I don’t believe it for a moment,” someone commented zodiackillersite.com, A popular forum. “When he said it took two weeks to crack the Z32 and an hour to crack the Z13, I think it’s pretty well organized.”
Later on, Ziraoui realized that he had presented it as the definitive solution, and that he was a little ignorant and bravely plunged into a close community.
“He came in and told them’the end of the game’,” said Youssef Jiraui, his brother and Moroccan journalist. “But these people don’t want the game to end.”
And it remains unclear if the incident has been going on for decades. Consumed police detective, Dozens generated Strange claims than fiction And inspiration Blockbuster movie — It will be resolved so far. The FBI and the San Francisco Police Department, to which Ziraoui sent the findings, declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Born and raised in Morocco, Ziraoui studied in France, graduated from Ecole Polytechnique and HEC Paris, the country’s top engineering and business school, and is now working as a freelance business consultant.
Ziraoui initially thought that code resolution would be a fun activity during the coronavirus blockade. At the time, he was suspected of killing five people in the late 1960s, but knew nothing about the Zodiac Killer, which he himself boasted of killing 37 people.
The murderer’s hallmark is a series of four codes using letters of the alphabet and symbols, sent to the media from July 1969 to April 1970, with warnings and an intriguing promise of his identity. ..
The first 408-character code that the murderer said he liked to kill was cracked shortly after it was sent.
Many zodiac enthusiasts believe that the remaining ciphers (Z32 and Z13) are too short to determine the encryption key and cannot be resolved. They say countless solutions can work, making verification nearly impossible.
But Mr. Jiraui said he suddenly thought. The code cracker, which resolved the 340-character encryption in December, was able to resolve it by identifying the encryption key that was in the public domain when the breakthrough was announced. What if the killer uses the same encryption key for the remaining two ciphers?
So he said he applied it to the 32-character code that the murderer included in the letter as the key to the location of the bomb that exploded at school in the fall of 1970. The police were unable to crack the code. )
It generated a random sequence of letters from the alphabet. Ziraoui then Half a dozen steps It involves replacing letters with numbers, identifying the coordinates of numbers, and using his code-breaking program to crunch a jumble of letters into cohesive words.
The work consumed his thoughts, awakened him at night, and put him in constant anxiety when he learned horrific details about the murder.
“I was hooked on it 24 hours a day, and that’s all I could think of,” said Ziraoui.
After two weeks of intense code decoding, he decrypted the sentence “LABOR DAY FIND 45.069 NORT 58.719 WEST”. The message referred to coordinates based on the Earth’s magnetic field rather than the more familiar geographic coordinates.
The sequence focused on a location near a school in South Lake Tahoe, a California city mentioned in another postcard believed to have been sent by a zodiac murderer in 1971.
Excited, Ziraoui said he quickly turned to Z13, which appears to have revealed the name of the murderer, using the same encryption key and various decryption techniques.
About an hour later, Mr. Jiraui said he came up with the “KAYR”. I found this to be similar to the surname of Lawrence Kay, a salesman and career criminal living in South Lake Tahoe, who was the suspect in the case. Kay, who also used the pseudonym Kane, died in 2010.
I noticed that the typo was similar to the one found in the previous ciphers and that the killer could have caused an error when encoding the message. He thought that the results very close to Mr. Kay’s name and the location of South Lake Tahoe were more than coincidental.
Mr. Kay report The deceased police detective Harvey Hines was convinced he was the murderer of the Zodiac Killer, but could not convince his boss.
Posted by Mr. Jiraui, who was exhausted but overjoyed, around 2:00 am on January 3rd. message The 50,000-member Reddit forum dedicated to the Zodiac Killer was titled “Z13 — My Name is KAYE.”
The message was deleted within 30 minutes.
“Sorry, we’ve removed this as part of a sort of general policy for posting Z13 solutions,” wrote the forum moderator. He claimed that the cipher was too short to resolve. The moderator refused an interview with the New York Times.
Similar negative comments were made on other forums. Many of the comments were esoteric and sometimes fell into meaningless rabbit holes.Others are from Ziraoui Method It was too complicated.
David Oranchak, the leader of the 340-character decryption team, said in a written exchange that he was skeptical of Ziraoui’s solution and that “hundreds of suggestions for Z13 and Z32 solutions” already existed. Did. Due to the simplicity of the ciphers, it is virtually impossible to determine if any of them are correct. Others also arrived at Mr. Kay as a possible suspect through circumstantial evidence.
But David Nakarsh, Cryptographer and professor at École Normale Supérieure in Paris, and Emmanuel TomeZiraoui, a crypto expert at the French Institute for Research in Computer Science, said the code cracking method is sound and needs to be considered by police investigators.
Another cryptographer, Remi JelloAlso from Ecole Normale Superiore, Mr. Jiraui objected, saying he had made arbitrary choices in his work.
In retrospect, Ziraoui said he realized in an online forum that he had “arrived like a bull” by openly challenging decades-old theories about the case.
Oranchak said the Zodiac community “formed a faction around the preferred suspects” and influenced the way cryptanalysis claims were evaluated.
“They are usually friendly to hearty people when presenting ideas, but when they start acting as if they were 100% confident that they broke the code or incident, the community became quite hostile. “I will.”
Five months after the solution was first posted online, Ziraoui disappeared from the Zodiac forums. He stopped responding to comments, saying “I didn’t have the skills to play” in the paid environment of the online forum.
“My brother will tell me:’Bro, what you’ve done here is almost an easy part,'” said Jiraui with a smile. “In fact, the hardest thing is to convince people. is.”
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