“Black widow” eyed as threat to Sochi Olympics

U.S. authorities have become increasingly concerned about security at the upcoming Olympics in part because Russian intelligence is indicating that a widow whose husband was an Islamic militant killed last year by Russian security forces is believed to be helping an Islamic group which has publicly vowed to carry out an attack at the Games in Sochi, a law enforcement source confirms for CBS News.

CBS News investigative producer Pat Milton reports that the widow, identified as Ruzana Ibragimova, has promised revenge. Russian authorities have put out an alert for Ibragimova and have also been visiting hotels in the area inquiring if she has been seen and putting out posters requesting information on her. CBS has confirmed eyewitness accounts from Sochi that these posters have been put up in the area of the Olympic venues.

There is also a concern that other widows whose husbands were killed may be used by the Islamic terrorists as well to carry out an attack, possibly suicide attacks, Milton reports.

Last month, CBS News national security analyst Juan Zarate noted that Chechen rebels are famous for using “black widows” – widows of fighters who become suicide attackers. Zarate noted that females brought down two airliners in 2004 (one, ironically, was headed to Sochi) and a woman was involved in the Volgograd attack two months ago. 

Another concern of U.S. authorities, Milton reports, is that the distance between lodging facilities and the sites of the Sochi Games could pose a threat since athletes and spectators have to travel on public transportation to events, making them more vulnerable to an attack by extremists from the Northern Caucus region.

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Meanwhile, Russia’s counter-terrorism agency says it’s studying a video posted by an Islamic militant group that asserted responsibility for suicide bombings that killed 34 people last month and is threatening to strike the Winter Games. 

Security experts say the Russians are right intaking the threat seriously.

The video was posted online Sunday by a militant group in Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus. The Olympic host city of Sochi lies only 300 miles west of Dagestan.

Two Russian-speaking men featured in the video are identified as members of Ansar al-Sunna, the name of a Jihadist group operating in Iraq. It was unclear whether the men in the video had received funding or training from that group or only adopted its name.

There was no confirmation the two men were the suicide bombers who struck the southern Russian city of Volgograd last month as the video claims. Scores of people were also injured by the bombings of a train station and a bus.

 

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Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said Monday it was studying the video and would have no immediate comment. The video couldn’t be viewed in Russia, where Internet providers cut access to it under a law that bans the “dissemination of extremist materials.” 

It was released by the Vilayat Dagestan, one of the units that make up the so-called Caucasus Emirate, an umbrella group for the rebels seeking to establish an independent Islamic state in the North Caucasus.

Doku Umarov, a Chechen warlord who leads the Emirate, had ordered a halt to attacks on civilian targets in 2012. But he rescinded that order in July, urging his followers to strike the Sochi Olympics, which he denounced as “satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors.” The games run from Feb. 7-23.

The Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya claimed last week that Umarov was dead, but the claim couldn’t be verified. The Vilayat Dagestan statement said the Volgograd attacks were carried out in part because of Umarov’s order, but it didn’t specifically say he had ordered them.

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