By Shirley Hawkins
The threat of terrorist attacks that may occur during the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games in Russia next month have placed U.S and Russian security on high alert.
The region is the home of active terrorist organization and the State Department has issued alerts about “Black Widows”—female suicide bombers who blow themselves up in crowded venues.
During a press conference Friday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the United States will be ready to remove Americans from Sochi in the event of a catastrophic terror attack.
“If we need to extract our citizens, we will have appropriate arrangements with the Russians to do this,” Hagel said.
Approximately 10,000 Americans are expected to attend the Games, and thousands of police and Special Forces in Russia will be securing the Olympic zone and competition venues. Security from both the United States and Russia will be enforcing a “ring of steel” around the athletes during the games and F.B.I.agents will accompany athletes to all events.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has stated that Americans will be safe in Sochi because the “ring of steel” of security forces will ensure that the Olympics are safe from terrorists.
But U. S. officials fear that soft targets like hotels and transportation hubs outside the “ring of steel” may become targets.
Military commanders in the Department of Defense are prepared to utilize two Naval ships deployed in the Black Sea should the need arise for a mass evacuation.
The threat of female suicide bombers at the Games is a primary concern in Russia and Russian security officials have launched an urgent search for three potential female suicide bombers,including one who mayhave already made it past the ring of security set up for the Olympic Games.
Russian police have been passing out flyers warning about Ruzanna Ibragimova, the widow of a militant reportedly killed in a shoot-out with police last year in Dagestan who is feared to be at large in the city of Sochi.
She is one of a group called “black widows” who want to avenge husbands or male relatives killed in Russia’s fight against Islamic militants in the Caucasus region.
Nicknamed Salima, Ibragimova is described as being affiliated with the Caucasus Emirate, the terror group led by Doku Umarov that has threatened attacks against the Winter Games in Sochi.
Ibragimova is described as having a 10 inch scar across the left cheek, a pronounced limp, and a stiff left arm that doesn’t bend at the elbow.
A police said she had left Dagestan earlier this month and arrived in Sochi about ten days ago.
Police and security forces in Sochi are urging American athletes competing in the games not to wear their uniforms outside of the Olympic venue.
Concerned about security measures, several Olympic athletes set to compete in the winter games have urged friends and family not to travel to the games.