Canadian intelligence report brings home security risk at Sochi 2014

Tuesday, 17 December 2013
By Nick Butler

The security risk is one of the gravest challenges facing Sochi 2014 ©AFP/Getty ImagesDecember 17 - Declassified Canadian intelligence reports have reiterated the dangers of terrorism at Sochi 2014 and, in particular, the threat posed by Islamist group Imirat Kavkaz and its Chechen leader Doku Umarov.

Although there has been much worry about security in the build up to next year's Winter Olympics and Paralympics, this marks the first clear evidence of concerns by a Government. 

The two Canadian reports, obtained by the National Post after an Access to Information request, are entitled "Potential Terrorist Threats to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games," and "Imirat Kavkaz Calls for Attacks to Stop 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics".

Compiled by the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre, they describe how "Imirat Kavkaz leader Doku Umarov is a fervent Islamist who espouses Al-Qaeda's ideology of global jihad.

"His view that Israeli, United States and British interests are legitimate targets raises concerns any Westerners could be targeted."

A second report, also circulated among Government officials, described how Umarov has called for attacks on what he calls the "Satanic Games" in Sochi.

There have been several terrorist attacks in Chechnya in recent months as well as the bombing in Volgograd ©AFP/Getty ImagesThere have been several terrorist attacks in Chechnya in recent months as well as the bombing in Volgograd ©AFP/Getty Images





Seperatists in Chechnya have fought two wars with Russian forces over the last two decades and in recent years the violence has spread across the Northern Caucasus region, including into mainly Muslim regions such as Ingushetia and Dagestan.

Although Sochi lies to the west of this area on the Black Sea coast, it is certainly close enough for there to be severe spillover.

In July Umarov, one of the foremost insurgents, indeed urged followers to use "maximum force" to prevent Sochi 2014 being staged.

Umarov is Russia's most wanted man and the leader of the group who claimed responsibility for the bombings on both the Moscow metro in 2010 and at Domodedovo airport in 2011 as well as a number of more recent incidents. 

Although Umarov has not claimed responsibility, an explosion on a bus which killed five people in October in Volgograd further highlighted this risk of "spillover" because it took place some 400 miles away from the most volatile region. 

While international attention has focused more on gay rights issues the report shows, that to at least one international Government, avoiding a repeat of the terrorist atrocities which over-shadowed Munich 1972 and Atlanta 1996 is a priority. 

In Munich 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually killed, along with a German police officer, by the Palestinian group Black September, while in Atlanta two people died and 111 were injured in a bombing at the Centennial Olympic Park.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted that the necessary preventative steps are being taken to ensure Sochi 2014 is safe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has given strong assurances concerning security at Sochi 2014 ©Getty ImagesRussian President Vladimir Putin has given strong assurances about security at Sochi 2014 ©Getty Images


Security measures include "control zones in and around Sochi which will require tickets and ID", as well as "forbidden zones which will be accessible only to people and vehicles with some work-related connection to the area."

Closed circuit television and surveillance drones will also be used to identify possible issues, while Putin last month introduced additional anti-terrorism legislation into the Russian Duma. 

This includes the introduction of prison terms of up to 10 years for those who receive training "aimed at carrying out terrorist activity".

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have also provided assurances that Russia will be up to the task of maintaining security.

"Unfortunately, terrorism is a global phenomenon and no region is exempt, which is why security at the Games is a top priority for the IOC," they told insidethegames in October.

"At the Olympics, security is the responsibility of the local authorities, and we have no doubt that the Russian authorities will be up to the task.

"The Games are a celebration of peace and we look forward to that spirit being respected in 2014."

Contact the writer of this story at nick.butler@insidethegames.biz


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November 2013: Putin signs new counter-terrorism law for Sochi 2014
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