United States Officials Report ‘Specific Threats’ Against Sochi Olympics
The United States has revealed knowledge of “specific threats” against the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which open this week in the Russian city.
Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center said, during a hearing in front of Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, the US is concerned about the reach of Muslim fundamentalist groups in Chechnya and Dagestan who could launch attacks on soft targets
“There are a number of specific threats of varying degrees of credibility that we’re tracking. And we’re working very closely with the Russians and with other partners to monitor any threats we see and to disrupt those.”
“The primary threat, from a terrorism perspective, comes from Imarat Kavkaz, probably the most prominent terrorist group in Russia. It’s made its intent clear to seek to carry out attacks in the run-up to the Games. We think the greater danger from a terrorist perspective is in potential for attacks to occur outside of the actual venues for the Games themselves in the area surrounding Sochi or outside of Sochi in the region.”
In recent weeks Russian authorities have cracked down on the suspected groups that are planning to create trouble in Sochi, United States officials say, after twin bombings in the city of Volgograd in December.
US Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says the United States is concerned about the number of extremist groups who have expressed an interest in carrying an attack during the Sochi Olympics, but is confident that the venues are safe as they are protected by the so-called “Ring of Steel.”
However, Rogers complained about the level of cooperation from the Russians, as the United States has been available to assist with security concerns:
“They’re not at 100 percent. They really should be when it comes to peoples’ lives at the Games, and we know that it’s such a high-threat environment.”
In a statement, the White House said that President Barack Obama was briefed on Tuesday as to what the United States is doing to keep Americans safe at Sochi:
“He was assured by his team that they are taking all appropriate steps regarding the safety of Americans. He directed them to continue to work closely with the Russian government and other partners toward a secure and successful Sochi Games, and to review carefully and act on any new information that might affect the security of the Games.”
The United States is sending the largest contingent of athletes of any nation to Russia for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.