Russian security forces searching Sochi for suspected terrorist
The Dagestani widow of an insurgent is believed to be in Sochi and part of a plot to target Games, according to an alert distributed to hotels in area
By Roland Oliphant
SOCHI – Russian security forces are searching Sochi for a suspected terrorist who is feared to be planning to target the Olympic Games, according to a notice distributed throughout the city.
A description distributed to hotels in the area says that the FSB, Russiaâ€™s internal security service, has received information that Ruzanna Ibragimova, the widow of an insurgent â€œneutralisedâ€ by security forces, may have travelled from Dagestan to the Sochi area on January 11 or 12.
â€œAccording to our information Ms Ibragimova may be used by the ring leaders of illegal armed groups for the organisation of terrorist acts in the zone of the 2014 Olympics,â€ the notice says.
While the notice does not mention the term, the widows of fighters killed in the on-going conflict between Islamist separatists and Russian forces in the North Caucasus have been used in the past as suicide bombers.
Russia has deployed 40,000 police and security personnel in a â€œring of steelâ€ around Sochi to deter attacks by Islamist militants from the nearby North Caucasus republics.
The notice for Ms Ibragimova, 22, is the first sign that terrorists may have managed to penetrate the security cordon.
The security alert comes as a previously unknown group claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings that killed 34 people in Volgograd, 400 miles from Sochi, in December.
A Dagestani jihadist website on Sunday posted what it claims is a valedictory video made by the Volgograd bombers before their â€œdiversionary attacksâ€ last month.
In the video, which opens with what purports to be footage of the makings of the bombs used in the attack, two young men identified only as Suleiman and Abdurakhman list a string of grievances against Russia.
The claim, which could not be verified on Sunday night, is the first time any group has claimed responsibility for the blasts that ripped through Volgograd railway station on December 29 and destroyed a bus on December 30.
A written statement posted on the same website says the attacks were carried out by a group called Ansar Al-Sunna and warned that the December blasts were â€œonly the beginningâ€ of a terror campaign that would include chemical weapons.
â€œWe, the Mujahideen of the Caucasus, want to tell the â€˜Russianâ€™ people – the diversionary attacks which were carried out in Volgograd will be only the beginning of your suffering is you do not withdraw your troops from the Caucasus. Otherwise, attacks will continue up to and including chemical ones, Inshallah,â€ the statement said.
Ansar Al-Sunna is also the name of an Al-Qaeda linked Sunni group based in Iraq, though neither the video nor the written statement claimed a link with the Middle Eastern group.
Security experts believe the North Caucasus insurgency has fragmented into small, autonomously operating cells, making it doubtful that the name represents more than a handful of people.
The two purported bombers refer to Doku Umarov, the nominal leader of the so-called Caucasus Emirate, and the written statement says the attacks were inspired by him – but does not say that he ordered or organised them.
In a video released last summer Mr Umarov cancelled a ceasefire against civilians and called on his followers to strike the Sochi games.
Little has been heard from him since, however, and speculation is swirling that he may finally have been killed.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed president of Chechnya, said on Thursday that he had new evidence the elusive warlord, a veteran of both Chechen wars, is dead.
But no body has been produced and the Russian security services have said they do not yet have enough information to confirm the claim.