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Terrorists in the contentious Caucasus region near Russia are calling for attacks on the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, according to a terrorist monitoring organization.
A website affiliated with the Caucasus Emirate (CE), a separatist militant group affiliated with Islamic radicals, called for the terror attacks on Wednesday.
The renewed calls for terrorism from this region of the world underscore the threat that Chechen and other separatist militants pose to the globe, particularly the Olympics, which has become a threat magnet for those angry with Russia and the West.
The Boston Marathon bombers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were ethnic Chechens who had ties to terror leaders in the Caucasus.
CE leader Dokku Umarov, head of the group’s political and militant fronts, said terror attacks are warranted because the Olympics violate “our Islamic law.”
“Today they are violating our Islamic lands and our rights and staging a sporting event in Tatarstan … these devilish games will be held in violation of our Islamic laws,” Umarov said in a video statement posted on the terrorist’s Kavkazcenter website, according to a translation of his remarks by the Middle East Media Research Center (MEMRI).
“Therefore I call upon every mujahid [militant] in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and the Caucasus to exert every effort in the path of Allah in order to disrupt these satanic dances [which will be held] on the bones of our fathers,” said Umarov, who the U.S. has designated as a terrorist.
Ariel Cohen, a Russia expert at the Heritage Foundation, said that the threat level posed by Umarov and other terrorists is “very high,” particularly for U.S. and Israeli Olympians.
“But it’s a threat level for everybody,” he said, noting that Russian security services are frequently ineffective when it comes to stopping terrorists.
“The track record of the Russian services is not stellar,” Cohen said, noting several successful suicide bombings of planes and trains, as well as massive hostage taking and other acts of terror in Russia.
“And Sochi is right next to the Caucasus theater” and just a half a day’s drive from terrorist strongholds, meaning “it will be even easier” to launch an attack.
Umarov’s call to violence is believed to nullify “his February 2012 statement announcing a cessation of attacks on civilian targets in Russia,” MEMRI reported.
Umarov’s statement is addressed to “the mujahideen” in the Caucasus and “in Russian territory,” according to MEMRI.
“He says that jihad has gone global, and no Islamic country can be without jihad,” MEMRI reported.
The U.S. has offered in the past a $5 million reward for any information that leads to Umarov’s capture.
Russia expert Cohen dubbed Umarov’s group an “al Qaeda wannabe” and cited a large growth in terrorism across the region.
Umarov stated in his video that “he had been too kind” in his earlier peace declaration, claiming that “the infidels don’t understand that, they construe it as weakness,” according to the translation of his video remarks.
Umarov expressed anger with Russia, which he accused of persecuting Muslims.
“There must be retaliation for every ‘barbaric action,’” committed by the Russians, he said. “We must prove to the Kremlin dwellers that such kindness is not weakness.”
Since the Tsarnaev brothers carried out their successful attack, experts and others have warned the Winter Olympics have become a key target for Chechen terrorists.
Sochi is a Black Sea coastal town that borders the conflict-plagued North Caucasus region where al Qaeda has been gaining a foothold.
Although the longstanding ethnic conflict rarely is mentioned in the American media, some viewed the Boston bombings as a sign that al Qaeda is trying to expand hostilities outside of the region.
Cohen noted that “security challenge is the biggest challenge” when it comes to the Olympics, in which Russia has invested around $50 billion.
“They cannot control the Chechen and North Caucasus al Qaeda wannabes who have strong ties to the global Islamist networks,” Cohen said.