The Winter Olympics and the threat of terrorism

I’m sure most readers have learned by now of the suicide bomber who killed 15 people in Volgograd.  The city’s in southern Russia, only a few hundred miles from Sochi, where the 2014 Winter Olympics are to take place in February.

I’m afraid this incident may portend an upsurge in Islamic fundamentalist terrorism in and around southern Russia during the Games.  It’s very likely that terrorists regard the Games as an ideal opportunity to gain publicity for their cause, and inflict terror on the Russian government and people, whom they blame for the plight of their fellow religionists in territories such as Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia.  For an excellent in-depth overview of the situation, read this leaked memo from the US Embassy in Moscow in 2006.

Islam has been repressed more or less savagely in the region since Tsarist times, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, religious fundamentalists tried to use the resulting confusion to re-establish their dominance of the area.  The new Russian government fought back, resulting in bitter conflicts such as the First and Second Chechen War, disturbances amounting to civil war in several neighboring republics, etc.  Many of the terrorists who instigated and fought those wars managed to evade capture.  More than a few of them have fought in support of Islamic fundamentalists in other conflicts.  (Some are currently fighting in Syria.)  Their ideology has even reached the USA, with the Boston bombers reportedly influenced by Chechen revolutionary Islamic ideology.

If you or anyone you know is/are planning to travel to the Winter Olympics, you might want to keep the risk of terrorism firmly in mind.  I’d say that, based on their past actions and demonstrated ruthlessness, it’s almost guaranteed that fundamentalist terrorists will try to take advantage of the influx of tourists to ‘make a statement’.

Remember the Moscow theater siege?

Remember Beslan?

I’d rather not have my readers caught up in something like that, thank you very much . . . so if you’re heading for the Winter Olympics, please be as careful as you possibly can.  Personally, I wouldn’t go.



  1. And what are the odds that Putin will come out with some press releases asking the terrorists to come to his dacha for a few beers, and telling his nation that they are remiss for not understanding the needs of those poor, repressed Muslims?

    Methinks that if confronted with a Beslan or a Munich Olympic Village situation, Putin would be (more than) a little bit less conciliatory.

    And as for this business in Volgograd, while Obama's file may be closed on it, I really, really would be surprised if Putin has closed his file.

  2. @Expatriate Owl: I'm not sure what you're getting at. Putin will probably go all-out to clobber as many terrorists as possible prior to the Games, and has probably been doing so behind the scenes for a long time. Anyone with any sense would do likewise.

    As for "those poor, repressed Muslims" – in the southern Caucasus region, yes, they certainly are. Read the US Ambassador's report that I linked in the article. If they'd been less repressed, fundamentalist Islamic terrorism would have had a much harder time taking root among them.

    As always, you reap what you sow. Russia is now reaping the fruit of decades of repression of the peoples of the region – and its savage reprisals are storing up further bitter fruit for future generations. That's the way it is. That's the way it's always been, anywhere on the globe.

  3. I've become a little paranoid of crowded public places. Stampeding, panicked people are bad enough. When you add explosions, or such, it makes crowds one of the least safe places to be.

  4. @Jess:
    On Christmas Eve there was a stampede in a huge shopping mall about 30 miles from me when people thought they heard gunshots. What actually happened is that the security people in Macy's were struggling with a shoplifter, near one of the store's entrances to the mall, and some items (news reports didn't specify exactly what) got knocked off a display case. When these items hit the floor they sounded just like gunshots and a panic ensued. Even a police officer who was nearby thought the sounds were gunshots. Several people were injured in the stampede, fortunately all the injuries were fairly minor.


  5. Hopefully Russia will extract major punishment on these muslims. What is really needed in the policy that is now in Angolan where authorities have taken pre-emptive action and decided to ban Islam. Egypt is too waging war on this satanic cult labeled islam. Maybe the world has seen enough and a new Crusades can proceed.

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