At least 14 people were killed today when a female suicide bomber detonated an explosion on a bus in
The bombings are the deadliest terrorist attacks in Russia since the 2011 suicide bombing at
Although no one has claimed responsibility for the most recent attacks, Russian officials have suggested Chechen separatists are the likely perpetrators. A U.S. intelligence officer who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the bombings said, “The attacks match what we have seen from Chechen separatists in the past. There is certainly strong reason to believe they are responsible.”
Last July, Doku Umarov released a video urging Russian Islamist fighters to use “maximum force” to stop the Olympics. Umarov compared holding the Olympics in
Russia expert Matthew Clements of IHS says the jihadist militant groups are based primarily in the North Caucasus republics of
Analysts have warned that terrorist attacks are likely to increase ahead of the Olympics, scheduled to begin in February, as a way to bring attention to their cause and strike at Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin almost certainly will raise security around
Clements note that the attack demonstrates the ability of militants to strike soft targets outside their usual area of operations, the North Caucasus. He explains that security measures around the Olympic venues are “very extensive” including “a tight security net around the main venues and associated infrastructure such as the Olympic village, as well as a “security zone” which has been established across much of
According to Clements, “The high levels of security will make it difficult for any militant to gain access to the main venues and undertake an attack.”
However, other targets are far less secure. Says Clements, “There is certainly a threat to softer targets, such as transport infrastructure and areas with a high density of civilians, in and around
Any attacks in Russia during the Olympics would seriously dent Putin’s credibility.
Clements explains, “Firstly, Putin and his government have staked a lot on holding a successful Olympics as part of their efforts to present Russia as a modern and powerful country. Any attacks, either at the games or even at other locations in Russia, during the Olympics will cast a cloud over the games and undermine perceptions of them having been successful.”
The second threat to Putin involves his promise to end the insurgent threat from the North Caucasus. Notes Clements, “Arguing that this threat is declining will be very difficult if a successful attack is undertaken during the Games.”
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