Officials from the United Kingdom government have warned that further terrorist attacks ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics are “very likely”, according to Frank Gardner of the BBC.
Gardner reports that a threat assessment seen by the BBC names the Imarat Kavkaz (IK) as the main threat, and has repeatedly expressed plans to target Sochi. The assessment states that IK’s leader called on his followers to disrupt the Games.
With the Winter Olympics scheduled to run 7-23 February, the report questions whether the group would have the capability to target the event within such a narrow timeframe. The British assessment is that Sochi would be far harder to target than Volgograd, which saw two bombings in December. Russian military and security forces are expected to assign 37,000 troops and police to securing Sochi.
Gardner reports that authorities in Russia are also looking for a suspected would-be suicide bomber, Ruzanna Ibragimova, who it is feared could already be in Sochi. Ibragimova is one of several “black widow” suicide bombers, so called because they were reportedly married to insurgents.
Earlier this month the National Olympic Committees of five countries received threatening letters, though officials have dismissed these as hoaxes. Two US warships are posted in the Black Sea to offer support to Russian authorities, with Counter Terrorism intelligence being shared with Russia.