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WASHINGTON – As fighting in the North Caucasus surges, Russian officials are beginning to believe that increasing terrorist activities could threaten security for the 2014 Winter Olympics that are to take place in the Russian city of Sochi, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Sochi, a resort city, not only is the location for the presidential palace but borders the North Caucasus region of predominantly Muslim provinces in southern Russia where Islamist militants seek to break from Russia and establish their own Caucasus Emirates.
Nikolai Sintsov, who serves on the Russian National Anti-Terrorist Committee, said that despite efforts by Russian security forces to go after the militants in the Muslim provinces of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, the threat of terrorist activities remains high in the North Caucasus.
Russian officials say that the militants in the North Caucasus get most of their recruits from young people – aged 17 to 30 years old. In Russia, terrorism has risen by some 20 percent a year, according to Sergei Vorontsov, a member of the Russian State Duma (Parliament) Committee for Security and Countering Corruption.
Underscoring the concern is that the population of Muslims in Moscow alone is approaching one million, suggesting that many of them could become radicalized by the Islamist radicals in the North Caucasus.
Such an attitude has been spawned in recent years by what observers say are the 200 to 300 Russian Orthodox extremists who equate every Muslim with being an extremist.
“Potentially, this attitude may drive young Muslims into the hands of the Salafis or the Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami organization,” said Mairbek Vatchagaev of the Washington-based think-tank Jamestown Foundation.
Among a growing number of officials, this development could create serious security problems in Moscow itself, as has been demonstrated in recent years by Chechens who attacked the Moscow subway and a Moscow theater, resulting in a large number of deaths.
The recent Boston Marathon bombing underscored the security problem in the run up to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
It has heightened concern with Russian security officials that whatever effort they make may not be enough, especially in light of Caucasus Emirates head Umarov promising to launch terrorist attacks on Sochi.
The International Olympic Committee believes that Russia will be able to ensure the security of the Games despite the rise in terrorist attacks in recent weeks.
Some Russian officials are downplaying the threat, saying that the Caucasus Mountains over which the Islamist militants, especially from Chechnya, would have to travel would be difficult.
That comment comes from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Kozak.
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