IOC Puts Faith in Sochi 2014 Terror Plot Uncovered
(ATR) The IOC and Sochi 2014 say they are confident of delivering a secure Winter Olympics after reports emerged that Russia had foiled a planned terror attack on the Games.
"Security is a top priority for the IOC. Security at the Games is the responsibility of the local authorities, and we have no doubt that the Russians will be up to the task," the IOC said Thursday in a statement.
"The Games are a celebration of peace. We look forward to that spirit being respected in 2014."
The IOC was responding to Russian media reports that the country's Anti-Terror Committee had uncovered a plot by Caucasus militants aided by Georgia security services to attack the Black Sea resort that is staging the 2014 Olympics in little more than 20 months' time.
Russia's National Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAC) said a cache of arms was seized including shoulder-launched missiles, explosives, grenade launchers, flame throwers, rifles and explosives in an area of the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia, just 25 miles from Sochi.
Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov, who is said to have close links with Georgia's secret service, is suspected by Russia's secret service agency FSB to be involved in planning the attacks. Umarov has evaded capture for years.
In 2008, Georgia and Russia went to war over the breakaway Abkhazia region, just 25 miles away from Sochi. (Getty Images)
"Russia's FSB could establish that militants were planning to move these weapons to Sochi during 2012-2014 to use for terror acts during planning and hosting the Olympic Games," said a NAC statement carried by AFP.
"Doku Umarov – while maintaining close contacts with the Georgian special services – coordinated all activities to organize the delivery of materials to carry out the acts of terror," the statement added.
Since Sochi won Olympic hosting rights in 2007, Russia's FSB has long been aware of the threat of militants from the country's volatile North Caucasus region where Islamist insurgents operate. But there have so far been no terrorist attacks on the city.
Sochi 2014 officials declined to comment on the specifics of Russian media reports but offered reassurances about protecting the Games from terrorist activities.
"Sochi 2014 has always made security its top priority and all Games stakeholders have worked closely to ensure robust and coordinated security preparations," a Sochi 2014 statement said.
"We have no doubt this will be a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games."
In its bid book, Sochi 2014 said “the likelihood of civil disobedience events in Sochi is considered low” and highlighted “ethnic diversity in a tranquil environment.”
The book added that leading up to the Games, Sochi organizers would make sure that “legitimate” security threats “are appropriately mediated.”
Special forces units stationed outside a ski lodge in Sochi during February's alpine test events. (ATR)
On the section titled “Activist Minorities”, groups based "in the territories adjacent to the Russian state border" were listed as one of the three main terrorism risks. “Chechen illegal armed groups” were the source of the most violence at the time of writing. No mention was made of the Abkhazia region, which has been the leading source of tension in recent years.
“The [Russian Federation] has the experience, capability and technical means to ensure that the 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be conducted in a safe and secure environment,” the terrorism section of the bid book concluded.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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