Two terrorist videos were released Sunday which evidently warn about extremist violence threatening the Russian Sochi Olympics. One video was released by a terrorist group in Dagestan and one was released by Russian security forces.
Russian security forces released a video purportedly to be of Russian forces attacking militants in the Caucasus region. The video depicts a military operation against a building in a location that appears to be a small town.
The more ominous video, produced by Ansar Alsuna, a terrorist group located and based in Dagestan, was reportedly published on a Chechen extremist website showing two young men–purportedly the two men who recently carried out a terrorist attack in Volgograd 400 miles from Sochi–fashioning a bomb and making threatening statements against the Olympics. The men depicted stated that the Sochi Games will not be safe.
The men reportedly stated that they had a surprise for their enemies in Russia. They also had a surprise for tourists that will come to Russia. They men stated that the reason for their attack was that Muslim blood was shed around the world every day in Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, and elsewhere, and that the upcoming attack would be their revenge.
The terrorist video also showed security footage from the two Volgograd suicide bombings, which killed 34 people last month. The security footage was of the train station and public transit bus which were exploded in two separate incidents by two suicide bombers.
The December Volgograd bombings and the recent terrorist video are highlighting concerns widely held about the safety of the Olympic Games at Sochi. Sochi is a remote location: a resort town on the Black Sea in the Caucasus mountains. Events at the Sochi Games will be held at two main sites. Ice hockey and figure skating will be held among a cluster of sports at the coast and skiing and sliding sports will be in the mountains.
The main terrorist organizations who are targeting Russian psychology are also located in the Caucuses Mountains, most famously Chechnya and Dagestan. Russian security will be employed to its utmost ability at Sochi, but many expert commenters still fear that violence will strike the Games. Some security specialists have also predicted that Sochi will be safe, but that less protected soft targets outside Sochi’s defensive perimeter will be attacked.
Recently, U.S. House and Senate Intelligence Committee members have spoken out about their concern over safety at Sochi. Senators have made public their concerns about the lack of information that the senators feel should be provided to Americans about what is needed to protect U.S. Athletes.
The U.S. is taking terrorist threats against the Sochi Games very seriously. The FBI announced that they would send agents to assist counterterrorism at Sochi. The State Department recently issued a travel advisory report warning Americans planning to travel to Sochi for the Olympics.
Last week no travel advisory was going to be issued by the State Department, but Friday an advisory appeared. The advisory included information about threats and bombings made by terrorists in Russian and against Sochi. The terrorist information includes details about Volgograd and other past bombings as well as the threats made by Chechen radical militant leader Doku Umarov, who called for action against the Games. Warnings about Russia itself included in the advisory regard Russia’s personal monitoring of civilians, limitations of medical facilities, and Russian bans on homosexual or minor-related protests.
American officials have called on Russia to be more cooperative in sharing information that might prevent a terrorist attack. The U.S. does not feel that Russia has been as cooperative in this respect as it could be. The U.S. is also developing a secret contingency operation that would be enacted as a response to any terrorist attack and would provide for the evacuation of athletes and dignitaries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised that the Sochi Games will be the safest games in history. Putin referred to his experience in securing G8 and G20 summits are evidence of his ability to protect international public events. Putin recently confirmed plans to send 40,000 officers to handle security at Sochi.
The Sochi Games will kick off on the February 7. Much of the focus of the Sochi Olympics promises to be on security in light of recent terrorist threats, such as the recent terrorist video.
By Day Blakely Donaldson