Let's be clear: What you're about to see may be absolutely nothing. In fact, it's likely nothing. But given the circumstances and requests by authorities in Boston regarding gathering any possible evidence, we thought it would give you a small glimpse into what the FBI is dealing with.
A keen reader of TheBlaze asked us to look at a video sequence he spotted from a interview conducted in the hours leading up to the Boston bombings. In that video, you will see a man with a large, dark backpack and what appears to be a roller bag heading toward the finish line. Suspicious? Maybe. Or maybe it's totally harmless?
Of course it would be impossible to know just from this video. But the FBI is, no doubt, comparing many angles and images. We've forwarded it to them, as other media outlets have done with information they have received. And now we present it to you.
The video originally appears on the website Running.Competitor.com and is an interview with popular racer Shalene Flanagan. It shows Flanagan talking with the media after her 4th place finish, but in the upper left of the screen a man with a large, heavy-looking backpack and pulling what appears to be a roller bag can be seen walking under the white tent and heading toward the finish line.
We've included screen shots below:
The elite women runners began the race around 9:30 am, meaning that would put the video interview at around 11:30 am or a little later since Flanagan's time was 2:27:08. The bombings occurred around 2:50 pm.
Below is the relevant part of the video. We've altered it to highlight the man [NOTE -- If the video fails to load, please refresh; it's also best to watch in full screen mode]:
Is the video really a big deal?
It is highly likely the video simply shows a man with a large backpack and a roller bag and is nothing sinister. Could it simply be a media employee toting around heave equipment? Yes.
However, taking the advice of the authorities during several press conferences who stressed no piece of information is too small and following the lead of WHDH-TV in Boston -- which sent pictures that the station received of a suspicious package to the FBI (you can see our story on them here) -- TheBlaze called the FBI to alert them to the video.
In a brief conversation on Wednesday morning, an FBI representative requested TheBlaze send the information to a special email address it has set up to receive pictures and video. We complied.
After, we reached out to our own national security expert, Buck Sexton, to understand better how authorities and the FBI are combing through videos such as the one above and what may have stood out to him. Sexton, a former CIA analyst who also worked in the NYPD's national intelligence division and worked on the Times Square bombing case, viewed the footage and explained why videos like the one above -- even if they appear to be nothing -- are important for the case.
"There will be countless tips and videos similar to this, so it could be absolutely nothing -- or it could be a turning point in the case," Sexton told TheBlaze. "Given some of the initial indicators, law enforcement will have to verify a number of factors- for example: was the timing of this individual's appearance consistent with the detonations? Is there an immediate explanation for the backpacks seen in the clip? Once those initial steps are taken, then authorities will look to build upon this data. Were there other nearby cameras? Are there eyewitnesses who could verify this individual's identity?"
"It is in chasing down exactly those kinds of questions that investigators may get the break they need to bring the marathon terrorists to justice."
TheBlaze has not heard back from the FBI.