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Russians study Islamic video threatening Olympics

First Published Jan 20 2014 10:51AM      Last Updated Jan 20 2014 10:51 am
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Dagestan has become the center of an Islamic insurgency that has engulfed Russia's North Caucasus after two separatist wars in Chechnya. Militants seeking to create an independent state governed by Islamic Shariah law 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."

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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.

 

 

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