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April 19, 2013

Thoughts on the Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Photos

Boston marathon bomb suspect 2 profile First of all, I can’t believe the NY Post was taken in by all the amateur visual forensics, actually running one of Wednesday’s viral images on their front page. But hey, the kid was Moroccan and had a backpack. What else do you need?

Here, Gawker dissects amateur hour. For my part, that viral Imgur post most people forwarded to me was such a kitchen sink full of jumble, shots of obvious undercover cops juxtaposed with ominous Anonymous screed, bad grammar and misspellings throughout, I never gave it a second thought. FBI pix Boston bombing suspects

I am interested in the suspect stills and video the FBI released yesterday afternoon, however. The video is in three segments, the clips taken in front of the Forum Restaurant on Boylston at the intersection of Gloucester between 2:37:34 and 2:37:48 showing the suspects rounding the corner, then coming toward and going past the restaurant. (Keep in mind that we’re only seeing what the FBI chose to publicly release. Missing, for example, is imagery they say they have of Suspect #2 placing his pack.)

The  timestamps certainly provide food for thought. Because the bombings occurred at 2:50 pm and these images were taken at 2:37, one thing we know from this video — both suspects walking toward the finish line carrying full backpacks still a long block-and-a-half away from the first bomb location and 2 1/2 from the second – is that the suspects had to have placed their respective devices some time within the next 13 minutes.

There’s another thing, too, which I discussed in my post the day after. It’s the timing in general. On his site, Jeff Jarvis asserted that the motive of the bombers was to make a big media statement. If it was that clear cut though, I imagine they would have timed the explosions as close as possible to when the winners crossed the finish line. Can you imagine the greater havoc wreaked on the sports world and live race coverage, not to mention the potential for killing or injuring both world class runners and civic dignitaries?  Given that marathon times are fairly predictable — the winner of the men’s marathon and the women’s winner crossing the finish line at 12:10pm and 11:56 am respectively, why is it the bombers didn’t attack until almost three hours later?

Considering how America has been geared to think about terror attacks in terms of “Seal 6-worthy” opposition, the simplicity of the devices and the late afternoon timing suggest less sophisticated adversaries. (My sense is that this is the reason they have yet to be caught. You don’t leave as big a footprint or a tracking trail going the Walgreens route.) More reasons for thinking these two — if they’re the right suspects — are probably neophytes? How about doing your deed — these urban spaces in major Western cities a hot house of video and surveillance cameras — without any disguise, not even sunglasses?

One takeaway from these pictures and this data so far  has to do with how simple it is to cause this much trauma. As soon as these guys are caught and aggrandized, I seriously doubt anyone is going to stop and reflect on how literally pedestrian this attack really was. Beyond the media fever, it seems the government and the politicians (did anyone say: CYA?), not to mention the security-industrial complex, needs to keep the threat and paranoia level high enough to justify all the armored vehicles and paramilitary troops in place, even if what we’re up against is primarily kids in baseball caps, nails and kitchen utensils.

Boston Marathon bomb suspects video

By the way, if you were minutes away from committing a double bombing with the challenge of where to deposit your device, who would you be talking to on your mobile? Does it suggest another accomplice or even a coordinator on the other end? Or maybe it was just another disaffected homey – these guys being that dead inside.

David Green boston marathon bombing suspect

Update 12:50 pm: Now I’m looking at the clearer photo by David Green released in the past few hours alleging to show suspect number two. (Here it is full size.)


And then, here is one of the enhanced photos the FBI just posted on their website. What they speak to most is that critical question the overheated media and social media has been dancing on the head of a pin to discover. That is: skin color.

(photos: FBI; David Green via The New York Times)

  • bystander

    Re: cell phone call… unless, as you stroll along trying to “blend in” you really aren’t talking to anyone at all? Cell phone as prop?

    And, yes. Skin color. Certain people are going to have to work a little harder to make these individuals fit their preferred narrative arc. As this situation unfolds as I write, even at the ages of 26 and 19, my thoughts are going back to Columbine high school.

    “I don’t have a single American friend, I don’t understand them,” Tsarnaev said.

    Young disaffected males can be a problem anywhere, anytime, to everyone around them.

    • bystander

      Also, re: sophistication. Robbing a convenience store and carjacking an SUV does not sound like a well planned “get away.” Did these two really imagine that they’d just be able to melt away into their previous homes and lives?

      IMO, You’re turning out to be fairly prescient, Michael.

    • VCinCA

      i like the cell phone as a prop idea, b/c of something that i experienced. we were using a cell phone in a theatre show, and wanted to show how perpetually connected people are. so we glued the phone to a gal’s face (double sided sticky tape, 2 small pieces), and a) it totally worked in the show, when she removed her hand, but was still ‘on the phone’ people freaked and b) backstage she had to keep a hand up to her permanently attached phone b/c it was visually disturbing to (backstage actor) people to see a cell attached to a face (full cell, not bluetooth), even though it was also rather implausible given noise that she was actually having a conversation on said phone.. phones are a great prop for various needs. they permit all sorts of bizarre to asinine to detached behavior.

  • Dave McLane

    My overall take on this event is that it showcases a mindset which simply can’t accept that it doesn’t know. Thus it comes up with possibilities and then searches for evidence to match which means the full range of evidence isn’t collected.

  • gasho

    The big blowup of the David Green photo ( is remarkable – assuming that this kid in the baseball hat is in fact guilty. There are so many cameras everywhere these days that we can almost go back in time and check the data files – the continuous backup – for evidence.

    I never thought of the proliferation of image capturing devices (ie. cameras) as being part of the collective consciousness because they aren’t themselves conscious – but the way these images were captured, distributed, and analyzed via the network in a short timeframe, they do function that way, don’t they?

    My fears are that even though this low-tech attack probably could not have been prevented by increased security/surveillance/restrictions/militarization of public safety — that’s exactly where it will lead.

    And the point about them being “white” isn’t going to stop people from beating the drum about them being from an area on the globe where there is a history of muslim terrorism.

    I fear this is one small chapter, perhaps just a mention, in the great arc of our time as we further develop into THE STATE. It’s like a science fiction nightmare coming true. If they kill this kid with a drone, then we’ll know how far through the story we are.

  • Rick Biessman
  • Chris Fitzgerald

    Look at the bricks right behind white hat turning the corner in the higher resolution picture right where his backpack would be. The bricks don’t line up on the wall, like they were cloned in photoshop. Here’s a blow-up in a video that looks like he has a back pack on.
    Check it out:

  • Chris Fitzgerald

    When the police brought the younger brother to the hospital he had so many bullet holes they could not count them all. Here the brother is nude getting into the police car.
    Where did he pick up all the lead? And his brother was supposed to have run him over.

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