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Did Boston Bomber Tamerlane Tsarnaev Contact Jihadists near Sochi Olympic Site?

The late Boston Marathon Bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev made contact with Jihadists in Dagestan during a six month sojourn there in 2012. Dagestan is less than 1000 miles from the Russian Olympics site in Sochi. The question arises as to whether he visited Sochi in the company of Jihadists?  That is a concern facing Members of the US House Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Rep. Michael McFaul (R-TX). They are investigating that  and security at Sochi during a trip to Russia endeavoring to wrap up  an report  to be issued shortly on  the  April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon finish line terror attack by the Tsarnaev Brothers.

The surviving younger brother Dzhokhor is facing a possible death penalty conviction for the Boston Marathon bombing that killed three and injured more than 264, many severely with loss of limbs. He is also facing possible charges in the triple murder of three men in Waltham, Massachusetts on September 11, 2011 involving his late brother Tamerlane and an alleged accomplice, Ibragim Todashev  killed in an FBI shootout in Orlando Florida in May 2013.

Massachusetts Congressman William Keating (D- MA)   was interviewed today prior to a visit to Sochi Tuesday to check out security arrangements there with the start of the Winter Olympics, just two weeks away on February 7th.  Russia has spent more than $50 Billion dollars on the Sochi Winter Olympics and virtually cordoned off the city and surrounding region deploying more than 40,000 security personnel.  The main alpine events at the Sochi Olympics will be held 70 kilometers distant in the resort areas of Krasnaya Polyana and Rosa Khutor.  Some of the Olympics events will take place in the neighboring Caucasus Mountain range.  Russia is still reeling from last month’s deadly suicide bombings by Chechen “Black Widows” in Volgograd that killed 34. Volgograd is located 700 miles from Sochi. 2014 marks the 10th anniversary in September of the deadly Beslan School massacres in North Ossetia perpetrated by Chechen Jihadists.

Villayet Dagestan jihadis Reuters 1-20-14

Vilayat Dagestani Jihadis 1-19-14. Source: Reuters

Both the AP and Lori Lowenthal Marcus, US correspondent for The Jewish Press had reports about security concerns for the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics and possible ties to Chechen and Dagestani Jihadists in the adjacent Northern Caucasus region.

According to The Jewish Press report by Marcus, “Security Report, Tsarneav sought insurgents near 2014 Olympics Site”,  Rep. Keating said in a Boston Herald Radio interview:

He believes “that Tamerlan Tsarnaev did meet with insurgents here.” The phone interview was with the Boston Herald Radio and it took place on Monday, Jan. 20. Keating and several other members of the congressional committee investigating the Boston Marathon bombings traveled to Russia to investigate Tsarnaev’s connections to local terrorist groups.

[…]

Keating said a House Homeland Security Committee report will become public in two weeks, and it will contain new information on deceased Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev time in Dagestan.

Regarding  the purpose   of tomorrow’s  trip by the House Homeland Security Committee to the Sochi Olympics site, Keating was quoted by the AP saying:

We want to take back whatever coordinated information we can that deals directly with U.S. citizens, so we’re in the best position possible to make sure our own people are safe.

Marcus cites the alleged mastermind behind the terror attacks in Russia and the Caucasus. The Emir of Chechnya, Doku Umarov:

Over the past several weeks there have been several terrorist bombings in Russia which have killed many dozens. Credit for some of those bombings was claimed by a particularly brutal band of Muslim terrorists, headed by the charmless Doku Umarov, sometimes referred to as the “Russian bin Laden.”

[…]

“They plan to hold the Olympics on the bones of our ancestors, on the bones of many, many dead Muslims buried on our land by the Black Sea. We as mujahideen are required not to allow that, using any methods that Allah allows us,” Umarov stated in the video.

On Sunday these terrorists released another video. In this one they claim that Putin and all the tourists who come to watch the Olympics should expect “a surprise.” “We’ll have a surprise package for you,” one of them said, addressing Russian officials. “And those tourists that will come to you, for them, too, we have a surprise.”

According to a Reuters/VOA report  two men in the video released Sunday were from “Vilayat Dagestan, which says it is affiliated with a faction in Iraq known as Ansar al-Sunna, gave no other details of the two men. It is the first group to claim responsibility for the Volgograd bombings of a train station and a trolleybus.”

The Reuters/VOA Report further noted these developments in Sochi and Dagestan:

In another development, hotel workers in Sochi tell reporters they have seen wanted posters for a woman from Dagestan. She is described as a 22-year-old widow of a militant killed by Russian security forces last year. The posters say the woman, identified as Ruzanna Ibragimova, may be in or near Sochi and could be planning an attack.

Also Monday, Russian security forces say they killed three militants in Dagestan’s capital, Makhachkala.

The deaths are the latest violence in the city. On Saturday, security forces said they killed seven suspected militants who were believed to be involved in an attack on a restaurant. That attack left at least 16 people injured.

Putin has purportedly built a “ring of steel” around the Sochi Olympics site. Besides the Winter Olympics Sochi will be also be the site of the first Formula One Race in Russia scheduled for October 2014.  Besides security forces, Russia will deploy drones, metal detectors, bomb sniffing dogs, helicopters and even submarines offshore the resort complex as additional protection.  However, as Marcus in her Jewish Press report notes there is still vulnerability:

But the terrorist groups say they will target not just the host city but other areas of Russia. “Soft targets” such as transportation systems are particularly vulnerable. It is too early to tell whether the threats will keep away either athletes or tourists, but it is likely that terrorism considerations will play a role in future selections of Olympic host sites.

Given the 10th anniversary of the Beslan atrocity in September 2014 and the recent Volgograd suicide bombings could more murderous Jihad terrorism occur?  That despite  Russian security virtually  cordoning off  the entire Russian Winter Olympic site and the surrounding vicinity of Sochi, as well as prior clearance of credentials for officials, TV and print journalists, national  teams and spectators.

Possible terrorist scenarios  might range from combating with a mass suicide attack akin to Volgograd perpetrated by  Chechen and Dagestani Black Widows  to hostage taking  by  Chechen  henchmen of  Emir Umarov of one of the Olympic teams  eerily akin to the Israeli  team massacre at the  1972 Munich Olympics.

Marcus of The Jewish Press contrasted the security concerns of Rep. Keating and Maine US Senator King:

This Sunday the talk shows finally began airing discussions of potential terrorism at the Olympics next month. U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine said he would not go to Sochi due to security concerns. Cong. Keating said he “wouldn’t go so far” as King, but said he is “aware of the dangers.”

Marcus commented in an email to this writer: “In what may be the first time, I fully agree with Angus King: I am not going to the 2014 Olympics and I wouldn’t let anyone in my family go!”

RELATED COLUMN: ‘Ring of steel’ vs. Islamic terrorists: Olympic records set for security, threats in Sochi

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.