In 1972 the West German Authorities were completely overwhelmed by the brutal actions of the Palestinian terrorist movement Black September. The security forces were neither trained nor equipped for counter-terrorism operations. Only after the Olympics the West German government created the GSG 9 so that similar situations in the future could be responded to adequately and professionally.
Sochi, theather of the 2014 Winter Olympics; a fortified security zone. Olympics are traditionally known for the world’s top athletic talents showcasing their superhuman abilities, sportsmanship, endurance and competitiveness. Next to extremely high costs and the anti gay laws, this Olympics will be associated with security, threats and terrorism.
Last week, a group called Vilayat Dagestan, which claimed responsibility for a December 2013 bombing that killed 34 people in Volgograd, Russia, 630 kilometers from Sochi, issued a statement warning that Russians will “not see a quiet life.” They promised to deliver a “present” to tourists attending the games. On top of that the Islamic Jihad Union, an ally of Al Qaeda based in Pakistan, with followers in the Caucuses region of Russia posted a video warning “Satan is with you. He will betray you at the most inconvenient moment, and this moment is close.” The video compares the “Putin Olympics” to Hitler’s 1936 Olympics in Berlin and also refers to the two suicide bombings in Volgograd as evidence of support for the jihadists.
In recent days, five European countries have, also, allegedly received threatening letters and the United States Olympic team has received numerous messages from terrorist. In response to the terrorist attacks and threats, Russia has introduced unprecedented security measures for the Games.
To start, Rosaviatsia, Russia’s federal aviation watchdog, has issued a ban on all liquids for passengers with hand baggage on board airplanes, amid heightened fears of terror attacks ahead of next month’s Olympics. Athletes from hundreds of countries and tens of thousands of spectators will arrive in Russia in February with the dream of Olympic gold only to find an armed security games.
The security measures will also consist of forty thousand security officers patrolling a 1,500-square-mile zone around Sochi in what has become known as the “ring of steel,” set up by the Kremlin around the Olympic venue. The venue is going to be protected by Russian special forces, ultra-sensitive sonar equipment, monitoring drones, an air defense system, gunboats and patrol boats in the Black Sea, and 70,000 troops stationed along Russia’s nearby southern border with Georgia. CBRNe, Counter IED and Cyber units have been assembled as well.
In addition, hundreds of Cossacks, notorious for their historical unrestrained violence, have been brought in and charged with checking identification and rounding up suspects. “What you cannot do, a Cossack can,” Krasnodar Gov. Aleksandr Tkachev explained to local police. Russia has vowed to make the games the safest ever, and it is sparing no resources and expenses. The Sochi Olympics is the most expensive Olympics in history, exceeding $50 billion—more than four times the original estimate.
The U.S. is also playing a role in beefing up security. The US Olympic Committee has advised athletes heading to Sochi to avoid wearing their team uniforms or Team USA logos outside of Olympic venues during the February 7 to 23 multi-sport event to avoid being targeted. The United States is also moving two warships into the Black Sea. If ordered, helicopters could be launched from there to Sochi, and furthermore, if more capacity is needed; C-17 transport aircraft will be on standby in Germany and could be on the scene in about two hours.
That’s in addition to U.S. precautions on Russian soil, where FBI agents are now arriving in Sochi to work with their Russian counterparts, according to Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee.
The United States is considering sharing with Russia sophisticated electronic devices capable of sniffing out remote-controlled bombs, senior U.S. military officials told NBC News on Tuesday. The idea was brought up by the Russians on Tuesday at a high-level meeting in Brussels, the officials said. President Barack Obama also spoke with Putin by phone on Tuesday and pledged the full help of the United States in protecting the games.
Nonetheless this collaboration of the two powers which have a history of tension is not coming easy. Russia does not want to provide information that could reveal the sources and methods of how it collects human and signals intelligence, while the United States will not share jamming technology that could defeat radio-signal car bombs, because Russia could share or use that information to develop countermeasures that overcome those jammers.
However, despite these and other reasons Russia and the USA should put their differences aside and work together, following the Olympic Games’ spirit, in-order to ensure the safety and security of all Olympic athletes and spectators.