Winter Olympics 2014: Race to find Sochi 'bomber' casts chill over Sochi Games
Olympic committees in Germany, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia and the UK have received messages threatening their delegations, although officials dismissed them as unfounded
Wednesday 22 January 2014
Terrorist threats received by several national Olympic committees have set off another security scare over the Sochi Games, even as Russian police continue to search for a suspected suicide bomber in the city.
Olympic committees in Germany, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia and the UK have received messages threatening their delegations at the Winter Olympics, which begins in two weeks, although officials dismissed them as unfounded. Nonetheless, taken with the news of a potential suicide bomber on the loose, the threats have raised concerns about the impregnability of Sochi, where security is at unprecedented levels.
The British Olympic Association confirmed it had received a terror threat but said it “lacks credibility”.
“We have received what appears to be the same email that many other federations have received and the IOC has responded to state very clearly that in their view there is nothing of substance to this,” the BOA director of communications, Darryl Seibel, said.
Meanwhile, Russian authorities have been conducting a manhunt for three women they fear may be planning suicide attacks targeting the Games. Police leaflets in Sochi warned that Ruzana Ibragimova, a 22-year-old “Black Widow” of a militant killed by security forces, was at large in the city.
Security officials also put out wanted posters for Oksana Aslanova, 26, and Dzhannet Tsakhayeva, 34, saying the women were planning attacks in Rostov-on-Don, where the Olympic torch procession arrived today. A fourth suspected bomber, Zaira Aliyeva, 26, was killed on Saturday by security forces in Russia’s restive Dagestan republic, NBC News reported.
Sochi is beside Russia’s North Caucasus region, which has been plagued by violence related to an Islamist insurgency. In a video on the website of a North Caucasus militant group, two men claimed credit for the double suicide bombing that killed 34 people in Volgograd in December and promised a “present” for tourists at the Olympics. An alleged female suicide bomber from the North Caucasus previously killed six people on a bus in Volgograd.
A wanted poster for the ‘Black Widow’ in Sochi (Reuters)
But President Vladimir Putin has pledged the Games will be safe, and Russian authorities are deploying up to 60,000 law enforcement personnel around Sochi, more than double the number on hand for the much bigger London Games. As part of their “ring of steel” operation, the city has been closed off to all vehicles not registered in the city since 7 January.
Security experts raised doubts about the ongoing manhunt and said that even if Ibragimova or another potential suicide bomber has penetrated the “ring of steel”, it does not necessarily raise the risk of a terrorist attack.
“This kind of information that a certain person is terrorist and part of a plot is often spread without being verified,” said Gregory Shvedov, the editor of Caucasian Knot, an information agency that covers violence in the North Caucasus and nearby regions. Notably, a Russian blogger posted photos of Ibragimova in August and a warning that she was likely planning an imminent terrorist attack, in an apparent indication that she has been sought before.
Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University and expert on Russia’s security services, said there was “no evidence” that terrorists have the necessary structure and explosives to carry out an attack in Sochi. But he said “there will almost certainly be attacks on the outside” of the Sochi security zone during the Olympics.
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gay couple buy JebBushForPresident.com web domain, and refuse to sell
Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...