Experts: Terrorist threat now higher
A video by Russian-speaking Islamic terrorists threatening to attack the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi — along with reports that so-called “black widow” female suicide bombers may already be there — make the prospect of a terrorist strike higher than ever, experts say, while U.S. congressmen voiced concern about security.
U.S. Rep. William Keating, speaking to Herald Radio from Russia yesterday, said he will travel to Sochi today “to see firsthand what measures have taken place for security.”
“That’s the danger we live in today in our world,” Keating said. “What makes this more problematic is the location to the Caucasus ... you have a built-in terrorist group bent on hurting the Russians who sponsor these Olympics. So there’s that second level of danger.”
The U.S. military will have warships and transport aircraft at the ready in case U.S. athletes and officials need to be evacuated from the 2014 Sochi Olympics. A contingency plan has been established in case “something happens like a major terrorist attack and we need to get Americans out,” an unnamed U.S. official told CNN.
U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, told the Herald he worries about poor communication between Russian and U.S. intelligence.
“They as much as anybody have to be in sync, and the intelligence sharing between the U.S. and Russia has to be intensive,” Chaffetz said. “From the reports I’ve heard it hasn’t been like that, and that’s an obvious concern.”
Edward Turzanski, of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, said of the threat level: “If my kids came up to me and said, ‘Dad, we’ve been saving for a couple of years and I’m going to go there,’ I would say, ‘This is not the sort of thing I want you to do.’ I’m not saying an attack is going to happen, I’m just saying the threat level is not insignificant here.”
In a video yesterday, the extremist group Vilayat Dagestan claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing last month in Volgograd, about 400 miles from Sochi. The group warned Russian President Vladimir Putin, “We will give you a present for the innocent Muslim blood being spilled all over the world ... for the tourists who come, there will be a present, too.”
Extremists are seeking an Islamic state in the North Caucasus. Russia has committed $2 billion and 63,000 cops and soldiers to secure Sochi, about 300 miles from the terrorist hotbed, but news reports said as many as four “black widow” suicide bombers have already infiltrated the safe zone to avenge their slain terrorist husbands.