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Security Concerns Loom Over Sochi Games

 Some members of the U.S. Congress say they're seriously concerned about the safety of Americans at the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, which begin in just over two weeks.


Russian security officials are hunting down three potential female suicide bombers, one of whom is believed to be in Sochi, where the Winter Olympics will begin next month.

AP Photo

Police leaflets seen by an Associated Press reporter at a central Sochi hotel on Tuesday contain warnings about three potential suicide bombers. A police letter said that one of them, Ruzanna Ibragimova, a 22-year-old widow of an Islamic militant, was at large in Sochi.

Russian authorities have blamed the so-called "black widows" of slain insurgents for previous suicide attacks in the country.

Security officials in Sochi were not available for comment on Tuesday. The Black Sea resort town will host the games in February amid concerns about security and potential terrorist attacks.

The southern city of Volgograd was rocked by two suicide bombings in late December, which killed 34 and injures scores more. An Islamic militant group in Dagestan on Monday posted a video claiming responsibility for the bombings and threatened to strike the games in Sochi, about 500 kilometers (300 miles) west of Dagestan.

AP Photo

Police material distributed to the hotel staff also included pictures of two other women in veils: 26-year-old Zaira Aliyeva and 34-year-old Dzhannet Tsakhayeva. It said they had been trained "to perpetrate acts of terrorism."

It warned that the two women "are probably among us," but, unlike Ibragimova's case, did not say if they are in Sochi.

The Olympics are to be held Feb. 7-23. Russia has mounted an intense security operation in the city, but concern persists that "soft targets" outside the Olympic venues, such as buses and tourist facilities, are vulnerable to attack.

An Islamic militant group in Russia's North Caucasus is warning that if the Winter Olympic Games are held in Sochi, "we will give you a present for the innocent Muslim blood being spilled all around the world."

The militant group that issued the warning on video also is claiming responsibility for the two deadly suicide bombings in the Russian southern city of Volgograd last month.

Congressman Brian Higgins says that while he does have some concerns with safety in Sochi, he doesn't think it's enough to tell anyone not to go to an event that for many will be a once in a lifetime experience.

"It (the Olympics) is a target for terrorist activity because it is a high-profile even that the whole world will be watching," Higgins said.

"But we can't live our lives always fearful that there will be a terrorist attack, because that's part of the terrorist mentality, to disrupt normal activities."


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Higgins also said that despite Russia not fully cooperating with the US on security, they will still have over 40 thousand police officers at the games, and the whole country is on alert.

"Regardless about what we may feel about them as a country, the last thing they want to do on the international stage is to be embarrassed by some sort of disruption," Higgins says.

The State Department has advised Americans who plan to attend the Olympics, which run Feb. 7-23, that they should keep vigilant about security because of potential terrorist threats, crime and uncertain medical care.

According to Higgins, the US State department is working closely with both Russian and international authorities to ensure the safety of American athletes and spectators.

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Russia's counter-terrorism agency says it is studying a  video (R) posted by the militant group in Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in Russia's North Caucasus.

In the video, two Russian-speaking men (pictured L)  are identified as members of Ansar al-Sunna, the name of a militant group operating in Iraq. It was unclear whether they had received funding or training from the group or only adopted its name.
There was no confirmation the men were the Volgograd suicide bombers as the video claims.
The National Anti-Terrorism Committee said Monday it was studying the video and would have no immediate comment.
CBS News Video
Russia Studies Video Threatening Sochi Attacks



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Topics : PoliticsWar_Conflict
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Locations : BuffaloMoscowNorth CaucasusSochiVolgograd
People : Brian Higgins
01/21/2014 6:50AM
Security Concerns Loom Over Sochi Games
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