Men with backpacks at Boston Marathon private contractors?

Unidentified operatives wore tactical gear, black backpacks and hats with skull insignia similar to that of private contractors, Navy SEALs. Photo: Anonymous

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2013 — Federal and local authorities have yet to comment on the identity of what appears to be a team of operatives photographed at the Boston Marathon bombing site wearing black backpacks, tactical boots and pants and communication equipment. At least one of them wore a hat emblazoned with a skull insignia similar to insignias used by private contractors Craft International and Blackwater USA (renamed Xe Services then Academi), and Navy SEAL teams 3 and 5.  

The men were also photographed after the explosion meeting at the finish line behind a black SUV with US Government license plates and satellite communication equipment on the roof.

Men with backpacks at the scene, possibly Craft International contractors. (Anonymous)

Men with backpacks at the scene, possibly Craft International contractors. (Anonymous) reports that the photographs were sent to them by Anonymous, along with photos of two possible suspects the FBI asked media not to distribute, but which were later posted by the Drudge Report. The two men were subsequently cleared by the FBI, reports the NY Post.

Shortly after the explosions, several of the operatives ran toward the scene, and one was photographed using what appears to be a radiation detector at the finish line.

Before the photos were released, there were reports that a suspect had been identified and a lone domestic terrorist was in custody.

CNN first blogged at 1:46pm on Wednesday afternoon, “an arrest has been made in connection with Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings, sources tell CNN’s John King and CNN contributor Fran Townsend. King’s source is with Boston law enforcement, he said; Townsend’s source is with federal law enforcement.”

The Associated Press tweeted, “Breaking: Law enforcement official: Boston Marathon bomb suspect in custody, expected in federal court. –BW”

Fox News tweeted “#BREAKING NEWS: confirms arrest made in deadly #Boston Marathon bombing.”

At 2:23pm CNN blogged “As news of an arrest spreads, a crowd has been gathering outside a federal courthouse in Boston.”

The official who spoke to The Associated Press did so on condition of anonymity and stood by the information even after it was disputed. The official was not authorized to divulge details of the investigation. The official had said the suspect was expected in federal court in Boston.

SEE RELATED: Boston explosion eyewitness: It smelled like gunpowder

The stories were retracted. A bomb scare then closed a Federal Courthouse in Boston. Helicopter footage from a local Boston ABC affiliate WCVB shows a silver van with tinted glass and a law enforcement agent hanging off the side hastily backing into the courthouse. 

Later, a press conference was postponed then eventually cancelled.

Craft International is a private contractor company founded by the late Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, who was killed in February at a Texas shooting range.

A woman who answered a Dallas phone number for Craft International, when asked if she could confirm or deny if pictures seen at com and elsewhere on the internet were of actual Craft employees, stated that she was “just an answering service for Craft” and that no one was available to comment. The woman declined to provide the name of the answering service she worked for and hung up.

Men congregating behind an SUV with U.S. government plates behind the finish line. (Anonymous)

Men congregating behind an SUV with U.S. government plates behind the finish line. (Anonymous)

The photos at also focused on a man with a blue jacket carrying a black backpack, who in one photo turns toward another man. There is no evidence that he was doing anything wrong, though a witness at the scene said that the man did stand out.

Bruce Mendelsohn, a former U.S. Army lieutenant, was headed on foot to a post-race party on the third floor of a building close to the marathon finish line shortly before the explosions. He told after reviewing the photos that he remembers the man in the blue jacket.

Mendelsohn and his brother, who had just finished the race, walked around to access the spectator side of the finish line near LensCrafters. “The crowd was five to ten people deep”.

“He seemed out of place.  It didn’t look to me like he was having a good time, unlike everyone else. That is why he stood out. I didn’t see him with anyone else.”

Asked if he remembers anything else during his walk, Mendelsohn said, “we saw another guy wearing a heavy coat. He looked like he was to trying to access the building we were going into, then he saw us going in and left.” He described the man as wearing a bulky gray jacket, in his twenties to thirties, with short hair, and not wearing athletic shoes.

The building they entered was 667 Boylston Street.



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Alan Jones is an investigative journalist covering a wide range of areas.  He has worked in the financial industry and has lived overseas.


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