Security personnel patrol the Olympic Park at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games

commentary

(CNN)

February 5, 2014

The Secretive Battle for Sochi

Security personnel patrol the Olympic Park at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games

photo by Reuters/Brian Snyder

by Brian Michael Jenkins

The investment Russia has made in security to protect athletes and spectators at the Winter Olympics in Sochi is unprecedented — but so is the threat.

Doku Umarov, the leader of a shadowy group responsible for a number of recent terrorist bombings in Russia, has vowed to attack the Olympics — no holds barred. He has described the games as a “satanic dance on the bones of our ancestors.” Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is staking a vast amount of political capital on a successful Olympics, has vowed to surround Sochi with a protective “ring of steel.”

Behind the public terrorist threats and visible security measures, though, lies a secretive contest that pits Russian counterterrorism strategists against a determined terrorist foe. The world can only guess at what capabilities or plans the terrorists may already have in place. Equally invisible are the dark strategizing and intelligence efforts of Russian counterterrorism authorities...

The remainder of this op-ed can be found at cnn.com.


Brian Michael Jenkins is senior adviser to the RAND president and the author of Al Qaeda in Its Third Decade: Irreversible Decline or Imminent Victory?

This commentary originally appeared on CNN on February 5, 2014. Commentary gives RAND researchers a platform to convey insights based on their professional expertise and often on their peer-reviewed research and analysis.