News / Europe

Sochi is Target for Terror Attacks

Security guards check visitors at the entrance to the olympic park in Adler near Sochi, Jan. 16, 2014.
Security guards check visitors at the entrance to the olympic park in Adler near Sochi, Jan. 16, 2014.
Russian authorities have spent an estimated $2 billion to shore up security in advance of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, which begin February 7. Thousands of security personnel are patrolling what is described as a “ring of steel” around the Black Sea resort to prevent any terrorist attack.

The main threat comes from separatist and jihadi groups in the North Caucasus, especially from Chechnya and Dagestan, located some 500 kilometers from Sochi.  

Bruce Hoffman, an expert on terrorism with Georgetown University, said many groups come under an umbrella organization known as the "Caucasus Emirate" - "a militant group led by Doku Umarov, who’s death had been reported some weeks ago, but apparently is still alive. And he himself has vowed explicitly to disrupt the games.”

Focus on Sochi

In late December, a group affiliated with Umarov claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings that killed more than 30 people in Volgograd, the largest city closest to Sochi, some 600 kilometers away.

Thomas de Waal, who has written extensively on the North Caucasus, said the security threat comes from a “low-intensity but serious Islamic insurgency which is left over from the second war in Chechnya, which finished about 10 years ago and was never completely resolved.”

Various groups threaten Winter Olympics

“We are not talking about a kind of unified single organization which is fighting the Russian state,” said de Waal. “There is one self-styled organization called the ‘Caucasus Emirate,’ but people have some questions about how serious it really is. But we are talking about a number of quite desperate individuals who have an Islamist ideology, who have a personal loathing for the Russian state and for President Putin and who certainly want to disrupt the Sochi games if they can.”

De Waal said Moscow is faced with a problem.

“For the Russian state it would be easier if there was one group they could combat and they knew who they were," he said. "We are talking about a lot of rogue individuals in some cases, some of whom have a kind of personal motive of revenge, some of them a bit of organization - but people who it is very hard to monitor.”

Difficult to track 'black widows'

Bruce Hoffman said it is very difficult to keep track of those female suicide bombers known as the “black widows.”

“The ‘black widows’ are styled as the widows or spouses of male jihadists who have perished fighting against Russian forces whether it’s in Chechnya, Dagestan or other parts of the Caucasus,” said Hoffman. “They take that name in that they are so inconsolable, given their sorrow that they have vowed to avenge the deaths of their - it’s not only spouses, husbands, but brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins. And of course, revenge is one of the most visceral of emotions.”

Hoffman said the “black widows” are responsible for some high-profile bombings and terrorist attacks.

Threat of attacks outside of Sochi

“For more than a decade, women have played a very important and certainly a very prominent role in terrorism emanating from the Caucasus. Both the seizure of the Moscow Theatre [2002],” said Hoffman, “the seizure in 2004 of the school in Beslan, women were certainly involved in those operations - as well as in several suicide bombings of the Moscow subway [2004, 2010]. And then, of course, also in 2004, a woman with a bomb concealed allegedly in her brassiere blew up an internal, domestic Russian flight.”

Many analysts say the Sochi Winter Olympic Games will be well secured, making it difficult for terrorists to act. But experts also say there is a good chance of terrorist attacks away from the Olympic venues - anywhere in Russia.



Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid