ISVG Discusses Security Concerns for Sochi Olympics
ISVG Discusses Security Concerns for Sochi Olympics

by Dave Cranshaw
UNH Today Editor

The Sochi Olympics Games, which begin later this week, will take place in a region where terrorist violence is likely, according to a report from the University’s Institute for the Study of Violent Groups.

“The huge number of individuals expected to arrive in Sochi for the duration of the Games creates an attractive target for extremist organizations looking for an opportunity to capture the attention of the international community through violence,” noted a recent ISVG report.

The Winter Olympics begin in Sochi on Friday.

The Olympics are being held within 300 miles of Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region, a center of Islamist extremist activity, where insurgents have threatened attacks on the Games for years.

“It has been a very active area since the 1990s,” Samuel Belton, a master’s degree candidate in the Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences and a research analyst for the ISVG, told NBC Connecticut.  “There have been two major civil wars in the region.”

The region remains dangerous even though Russian officials are implementing what is believed to be the tightest security in Olympics history. Last week, the U.S. State Department issued a new advisory for travelers headed to Sochi, warning visitors that they should be alert to possible terrorist threats in the area.

Since Oct. 15, three suicide bombings have killed more than 30 people in the city of Volgograd, roughly 500 miles from Sochi.

“This is an evolution of the same people who have been participating in the civil wars, moving on to more of a jihadist ideology,” Belton told NBC Connecticut, noting the attacks closely mirror that of an al-Qaeda group.

“Even though we cannot predict a violent event, we can say that these people have the means, motive and opportunity to commit an attack,” said Belton.

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