Chechen Islamic terrorists threaten February 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia

Published 5 July 2013

Doku Umarov, a leading Chechen Islamic rebel, on Wednesday issued a call to Islamist militants throughout the North Caucasus to begin and plan for attacks to disrupt the February 2014 Winter Olympics which will be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The Russian government views the games the way China viewed the 2008 Summer Olympics — as an opportunity to show Russia’s economic and technological achievements. Putin’s government will spend a total of $51 billion on the games, making them the most expensive Winter Games in history.

Umarov called on Islamic militants in the region to “do their utmost to derail” the games, which he described as “satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors.”

“We have the obligation to use all means to prevent this,” he said in a video posted on a rebel Web site on Wednesday.

Epoch Times reports that this is a reversal for Umarov, who last year urged his fighters to avoid hitting civilian targets because Russians in Moscow were taking to the streets en masse to protest against Putin.

Security experts in Russia and other said that securing the games from acts of terrorism would be a daunting task. Violent Islamic insurgency has been on-going across the North Caucasus mountains which overlook Sochi.

Initially, the Islamic insurgency was confined to Chechnya, but after Russia, in two rounds of war in the 1990s, brutally suppressed the rebellion, the militants have shifted base of operations to Dagestan. Tamerlan Tsarnaev spent six months last year in Dagestan.

Jean-Claude Killy, head of the IOC coordination commission for Sochi, said such threats are to be expected.

“We get threats before every Olympics,” he told the AP. “This cannot be taken lightly. I think the Russians are well equipped to face the challenge.”

The Epoch Times quotes the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee as saying that ensuring security at the games is “the responsibility of the state” and will be its priority.

“We are confident that the games will be safe and comfortable for all as guaranteed by the Russian state,” the committee said.

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said in a statement on Wednesday that it is working to eliminate threats at all international sporting events in the country including the Olympics.

Officials said that they aim “to identify and avert various threats, including those of terrorism.”

Ramzan Kadyrov, the Russian-installed ruler of Chechnya, played down the influence of Umarov and promised that his security forces would track him down. “Before the Olympics, I think, I’m sure, that we will destroy him,” Kadyrov told the Interfax news agency. “We search for him every day, but he is nowhere to be found.”

The United States designated Umarov’s group a terrorist organization in 2011 and offered $5 million for information leading to his capture.