Russian Attacks Raise Olympic Security Concerns

The Olympic ice hockey events will be held at Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi. The Olympic ice hockey events will be held at Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi. Ivan Sekretarev/AP

A terrifying pattern is slowly forming in Russia.

During rush hour Monday, a bomb detonated on a trolleybus, killing 14 people in the city of Volgograd. The day before, an explosion at the city's main train station killed 17 people and wounded dozens. In October, a bus blast that killed seven was caught on a driver's dashboard cam.

Volgograd, about 400 miles northeast of Sochi, has become a target for suicide bombings. The city is a major transportation hub for people traveling from Moscow and central Russia to Sochi, where the Winter Olympic Games will be held in February.

Volgograd also houses the rail station that leads to and from the North Caucasus, where Chechens and Russians—divided in religious, cultural, and political beliefs—have been locked in conflict for years. Chechen separatist groups from this region are usually the suspects in terrorist attacks in Russia, and the recent deadly attacks suggest they could just be getting started.

In July, the Chechen separatist group Caucasus Emirate, the organization suspected in Monday's bombing, released a video statement promising violence during the games. The Russians, said the group's leader Doku Umarov, "plan to hold the Olympics on the bones of our ancestors, on the bones of many, many dead Muslims buried on the territory of our land on the Black Sea, and we Mujahedeen are obliged not to permit that—using any methods allowed us by the almighty Allah."

The U.S. State Department considers the Caucasus Emirate a foreign terrorist group, and offers a $5 million reward for information about Umarov's location. The White House condemned the latest attacks in a statement Monday, announcing that it has offered its "full support" to the Russian government in security preparations for the winter games. "The United States stands in solidarity with the Russian people against terrorism," said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said Monday he is "certain that everything will be done to ensure the security of the athletes and all the participants of the Olympic Games," according to the AP.

Still, the threat of more attacks, especially in Volgograd, has become real for citizens, spectators, and athletes. "Is this the beginning of a larger terrorist campaign leading up to Sochi?" wrote a pair of homeland-security and counterterrorism experts for ABC News on Monday. "There should be little doubt it is."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.