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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More