Less than 24 hours after a prominent Washington, D.C. think tank called the Sochi Olympics the “holy grail” for Islamic radical terrorists, the United States and five other nations find themselves trying to discern the seriousness of terror threats deemed “not real” by Russian officials and the International Olympic Committee.
“Sochi is the holy grail, I would think, for a terrorist to Islamic jihadist terrorist individual or group to go after,” said Andrew Kuchins, Senior Fellow and Director, Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said during a panel discussion on Tuesday. “[W]e have kind of the ultimate showdown, because for Putin — he’s got a lot riding on it; this is a very juicy target. You know, in this is sort of in American vernacular, it’s high noon at the O.K. Corral.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that a “ring of steel” will protect visitors from terror attacks at the Winter Olympics, but reports that the authorities are looking for three “black widow” terrorist belie that claim.
In addition, Russian officials and the IOC have downplayed the significance of terror threats made to the U.S., Germany, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia and Slovenia, that read “Persons attending the Olympic Games might be blown up,” Fox News reported.
Complicating matters further for officials are fears that the “Russian bin Laden,” Doku Umarov, may be working to strike before the Winter Olympics comes to an end. Two recent suicide bombings, which may have been linked to Mr. Umarov’s Caucasus Emirate terrorist group, have intelligence agencies looking into what role he may have played.
“[It is] not surprising that many would suspect Doku Umarov of involvement, particularly given Umarov’s previous public threats,” a U.S. intelligence official who requested anonymity told The Times on Jan. 1.
The Sochi Olympics will take place from Feb. 6 to Feb. 23.
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