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WASHINGTON – The head of the Chechen Islamist militants has put out a call to all North Caucasus militants to begin planning attacks to disrupt the February 2014 Winter Olympics to be held at the Russian Black Sea resort in Sochi, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Doku Umarov, who wants to establish a Caucasus Emirates in the North Caucasus region that includes the predominantly Muslim Russian provinces of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagastan, has issued the call to “do their utmost to derail” the games.
Umarov’s call is the realization of Moscow’s worst fear, since it sees security of the games as one of its highest priorities. It is estimated that Moscow will spend more than $51 billion to make a success of the games which it sees as a showpiece for its economic and technological achievements.
Umarov’s call is a reversal of his previous position that he would not launch attacks on civilian targets, although his group’s previous attacks on the Moscow subway a few years ago was a sign of that change.
The location of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi butts up against those predominantly Muslim provinces which Umarov has declared constitute the Caucasus Emirates.
He wants to split these republics from the rest of Russia, which some ethnic Russians support. But Russian President Vladimir Putin sees such an action as a potential slippery slope for other ethnic entities throughout Russia who want to do the same thing.
In wanting to derail the 2014 Winter Olympics, Umarov said that his group has “the obligation to use all means to prevent this.”
Despite these threats, the head of the International Olympic Committee coordination commission for Sochi, Jean-Claude Killy, appeared to downplay the potential threat, even though Umarov’s North Caucasian fighters have demonstrated a strike capability at the heart of Russia’s capital, Moscow.
These strikes have occurred even though Moscow is particularly well-guarded by Russian Special Forces and their counterparts in the Federal Intelligence Service, or FSB.
“We get threats before every Olympics,” Killy said. “This cannot be taken lightly. I think the Russians are well-equipped to face the challenge.”
The U.S. government is now offering a $5 million reward for Umarov, since he and his group are on the U.S. terrorism list.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the Russian-installed president of Chechnya, also downplayed Umarov. He said his security forces would track him down “before the Olympics.”
However, he suggested a disclaimer.
“I think, I’m sure, that we will destroy him,” Kadyrov said. “We search for him every day, but he is nowhere to be found.”
Moscow has another problem with Umarov, who now also backs Chechens fighting for “jihad” in Syria. That means they will bring back their experiences and more effectively take on the Russian security services in their quest to establish the Caucasus Emirates.
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