Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014

Russians study Islamic video threatening Sochi Winter Olympics

 The two Russian-speaking men featured in the video are identified as members of Ansar al-Sunna, the name of a militant group operating in Iraq.  (AP) The two Russian-speaking men featured in the video are identified as members of Ansar al-Sunna, the name of a militant group operating in Iraq. (AP)
Associated Press | Moscow | Posted: January 21, 2014 10:29 am | Updated: January 21, 2014 7:47 pm

in the Caucasus launch daily attacks on police and other authorities there. One of the two ethnic Chechen brothers accused of staging the Boston Marathon bombings spent six months in Dagestan in 2012.

Andrei Soldatov, an independent Moscow-based security analyst, said the video threat need to be taken seriously.

“They have capabilities to strike beyond the North Caucasus, which they demonstrated in Volgograd,” he said. “It’s extremely difficult to stop a ‘lone wolf’ suicide bombing attack.”

Georgy Mirsky, a respected Russian expert on the Middle East, said the video reflected the increasingly close ties between Jihadists in the Caucasus and elsewhere. Russia’s war against Caucasus militants has made it an enemy on par with the United States and Israel for militant Islamic groups in the Middle East, he wrote on his blog.

Russia has responded to the Islamic threat by introducing some of the most sweeping security measures ever seen at an international sports event. Some 100,000 police, army and other security forces have been deployed, according to analysts, and tight restrictions have been placed on access to the Sochi area.

Anyone attending the Winter Olympics has to buy a ticket online from the organizers and obtain a spectator pass that requires providing passport details.

Authorities have already barred access to all cars registered outside of Sochi and Russian police have gone house-to-house methodically screening all city residents.

Soldatov argued, however, that Russia’s massive security presence at the Olympics could also have an adverse effect.

“When you put so many troops on the ground, you might get some problems with the coordination of all these people,” he said.

Soldatov noted that the ominous threat of a “present” for the visitors to the Games contained in the video is loosely phrased and could herald an attack outside tightly guarded Olympic facilities.

“They never tried to specify the place where they might strike, that’s why everybody should be concerned,” he said.

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