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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid