Russian Police are currently searching for black widows in Sochi, site of the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Police are concerned that the widows of islamic militants are already within Putin’s “ring of steel,” the defensive perimeter that surrounds the Olympic site. Police are distributing photos of one black widow and seeking information about two other black widows.
Security experts have testified to the legitimacy of concerns many are experiencing in the face the threat of suicide bombers targeting Sochi. Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS) Russia and Eurasia program director Andrew Kuchins has stated that Sochi is the “holy grail” of jihadist terrorism, and has called the event “the ultimate showdown” between terrorists and those they antagonize.
The black widow whose photo is being distributed by Russian police is 22-year-old Rusanna Ibragimova, nicknamed “Silima,” who originates in Dagestan, one of the main centers of Islamic militant violent attacks on Russia in recent years. Dagestan is also the origin of a recent threat against the Sochi Games, according to a terrorist video released Sunday.
The two Russian-speaking men in the video threatened Putin with a “present” if Putin continues with the Sochi Olympic Games. The men also claimed to have a “present” for tourists at the Games. The reason for the past and projected attacks, the men explained, was revenge for “innocent Muslim blood” that had been shed in several locations around the world named by the two men. A statement posted with the video claimed that the message was from the Dagestani Islamic militant group Vilayat Dagestan and also claimed responsibility for two suicide bombs that killed 34 people in Volgograd late December, 2013.
The North Caucasus Republic of Dagestan is a predominantly Muslim federal subject of Russia. Vilayat Dagestan, based in the republic, is among several groups that together are bound in the goals of the Caucasus Emirate, a regional group that seeks to found an independent Islamic state.
Recently, America has offered military and intelligence assistance to Russia for the Sochi Olympics. The U.S. will station naval and air support in the Black Sea near Sochi which will be available for “all manner of contingencies.” One such contingency will be the evacuation of American citizens in the event of violence. Last Friday America’s State Department issued a travel advisory to Americans planning to attend the Games, warning them of the terrorist threat and of various precautions the State Department deemed necessary for Americans travelling in Russia generally, including warnings of medical service limitations, bans on homosexual or minor-related protests, and Russian surveillance and monitoring of civilians.
Two dozen FBI agents will be on duty at Sochi. The U.S. has reported, however, that despite the American assistance to the Russian Games, Russia has not shared sufficient information with America in order to cooperatively protect the games to the fullest.
President Vladimir Putin of Russia has repeatedly stated that the Sochi Olympics will be “the safest Olympics in history,” and has spent $2 billion of the total $48 billion cost of Sochi on security. 40,000 security and police will be in Sochi for the Games and a security perimeter 60 miles south and 25 miles north will limit traffic to the Olympic site.
The Winter Games are drawing near. The cauldron will be lit February 7 and the Games will continue until February 27. Black widows have been blamed for suicide attacks in Russia in the past, and the threat black widows pose to the Sochi Olympic Games had been observed even before the recent manhunt began.
By Day Blakely Donaldson