'Black widows' sow fear in Sochi

By JOHN ZAREMBA, LAUREL J. SWEET | Boston Herald | Published: January 22, 2014

Russian authorities continued their desperate hunt for “black widow” bombers in the Olympic host city of Sochi yesterday, while a former U.S. House intelligence chairman and Boston’s former police commissioner told the Herald they believe it will be nearly impossible to stop Islamic terrorists from the North Caucasus from attacking the games and ruining a pet project of their bitter enemies in the Putin regime.

Police in Sochi handed out fliers warning that one of the so-called “black widows” — young women bent on avenging their Islamic militant husbands — had infiltrated Russia’s $2 billion Olympic security setup and may be ready to strike.

“They believe this is a very, very serious and legitimate threat,” Peter Hoekstra, a former Michigan representative and former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Herald. “The most likely thing is them being in one public location and having a suicide vest on. ... If you’ve got two or three of these, the numbers could be significant and a huge embarrassment to Putin and the world.”

Former Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis — once rumored to be a top contender to head the Department of Homeland Security — told the Herald such attacks would be “almost impossible to stop.”

“To be honest with you, I wouldn’t let my family go. I’ve never seen military put in place like this, with ships being sent to the area to evacuate people,” said Davis, referring to the U.S. Navy warships that will be stationed near the port city in case of an emergency. “I think that tells a story we all have to keep in mind.

“If someone is intent on killing themselves and they want to bring people with them, and they’re working alone, it’s very, very difficult to stop,” Davis said.

Davis said the sporting venues and Olympic village “will be all right,” given that they lie within Putin’s much-trumpeted “ring of steel” security infrastructure.

“It’s the soft targets outside that ring of steel that I’m worried about,” Davis said, speaking outside a meeting of Boston-area officials considering a 2024 Olympic bid. “I’m also concerned about pre-positioned assets within that security zone. If they’ve been planning this for years or months, there may be people already there who are intent on causing harm.”

Hoekstra said it’s possible even larger-scale attacks are in the works.

“The real question gets to be, ‘Do they have the capability of some kind of WMD, where you can really get mass casualties?’ These, I’m sure, are the kind of things the security officials over there are losing sleep over.”

The Laura ski complex, in the Sochi mountain sports area of Krasnaya Polyana, will host many 2014 Olympic events in February. These competitors were part of the FIS Cross-Country Skiing World Cup in February 2013.


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