Sochi has 40,000 police officers for Olympics; US joins search for suicide bombers

Police officers on horseback Monday patrol the border of the Black Sea prior to 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
Kevin Liles | USA Today Sports
Police officers on horseback Monday patrol the border of the Black Sea prior to 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
Posted Jan. 20, 2014, at 5:37 p.m.

MOSCOW — A day after U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said he didn’t believe it would be safe enough for him or his relatives to attend the Sochi Games, Russian President Vladimir Putin said 40,000 police and special services officers have been deployed in the Black Sea resort to ensure security ahead of the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony on Feb. 7.

“I would not go. And I don’t think I would send my family,” Sen. King told CNN.

Putin said the government introduced a “special regime” to limit the movement of people and goods in the region on Jan 7. Russia is spending at least $48 billion to stage the Games, more than any previous host nation.

“I hope that it will be arranged so that it will not be evident and, as I have already said, will not depress the participants in the Olympic Games.”

Security has been stepped up across Russia since two suicide bombings killed more than 30 people on Dec. 29 and Dec. 30 in the southern city of Volgograd, about 400 miles from Sochi.

FoxNews.com reported Monday that U.S. counterterrorism operatives are helping Russian security forces search for four suspected women terrorists, including a “white widow” — the wife of a dead terrorist — who could already be inside the Sochi security zone.

Ruzanna Ibragimova, the 22-year-old widow of a jihadist killed by Russian security forces, is believed to have traveled from Dagestan to Sochi, according to a Russian security bulletin obtained by FoxNews.com.

Sochi lies to the west of the Caucasus mountains, which stretch about 1,200 kilometers across Chechnya to Dagestan on the Caspian Sea, one of Russia’s most economically distressed regions. Russian forces have been responding to almost daily attacks in the Caucasus by Muslim extremists since the two separatist wars that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Two men said by Islamist militants to have carried out suicide attacks in south Russia appeared in a video donning explosive belts and warning Putin to expect a “present” at the Sochi Games from fighters following after them.

The video was posted by a group identifying itself as Vilayat Dagestan and appeared on a website often used by militants from Russia’s northern Caucasus region where Moscow has been battling insurgency for over a decade. It could not be independently corroborated.

The video said the two men, named only as Suleiman and Abdulrakhman and posing also with assault rifles in front of a banner with Arabic writing, were the suicide bombers who attacked the city of Volgograd last month killing at least 34.

One, who is bearded, reads a statement in Russian to the wailing of a song in Arabic. The video shows them having what appear to be explosive devices attached to them and one pushing a button that nestles in his hand and appears to be a trigger.

“We have prepared a … present for you, for you (President Putin) and all those tourists who will come over,” their statement says.

“If you hold the Olympics you will receive a present from us. It will be for all the Muslim blood that is shed every day around the world, be it in Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, all around the world. This will be our revenge.”

Russia will do “whatever it takes” to prevent a terrorist attack at the Olympics, Putin said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” program.

“We have adequate means available to us” including the Russian intelligence service and the military, he said. “If necessary, all those tools will be activated.”

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on the ABC program that any possible attacks would be most likely against “soft targets” such as transportation systems outside the perimeter of the Games. He said cooperation between Russia and the U.S. on security for the Olympics “could be a lot better” and that the U.S. has offered military assistance.

Echoing the concern about inadequate cooperation on security were Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who heads the House Intelligence Committee, and Michael Morrell, former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, both appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, China said on Monday, in a show of support for Putin, who has staked his political prestige on the success of the Games.

China’s Foreign Ministry said that Xi would be in Russia from Feb. 6 to 8 for the opening ceremony.

Xi’s decision to attend is a positive development for Putin, after President Barack Obama and his German counterpart Joachim Gauck both said they would not travel to Russia for the Games.

Mark Hosenball and Timothy Heritage of Reuters and Jason Corcoran of Bloomberg contributed to this report.

 

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