Counterterrorism Chair: ‘These Are Going To Be Very Much Threatened Olympics’
(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, told ABC News’s Jon Karl on “This Week with George Stephanopolous” on Sunday that the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia will be “very much threatened.”
“The fact is that these are going to be very much threatened Olympics. Probably more than any we've had in our past, more than Greece, certainly more than London or China,” said King, who said he could not give U.S. athletes a “100 percent guarantee” that they would be safe in Sochi.
“Everything is being done by the United States, but the fact is this is a dangerous region in Russia by the north Caucuses. There are active terrorist organizations there,” he said.
“And quite frankly, the Russians have not been cooperating with us or with other countries anywhere near the extent that, for instance, the Greeks or the Chinese or the Brits did,” King added.
On its website, the State Department warned U.S. citizens attending the games to “remain alert regarding their personal security at all times,” adding that “major events such as the Olympic Games are a prime opportunity for criminal elements to target tourists.”
Furthermore, the State Department detailed “acts of terrorism, including bombings and hostage taking” that “continue to occur in Russia, particularly in the North Caucasus region.”
“Additionally, between October 15 – December 30, 2013 there were three suicide bombings targeting public transportation in the city of Volgograd, two of which occurred within the same 24-hour period,” the State Department said.
“Other bombings have occurred at Russian government buildings, airports, hotels, tourist sites, markets, entertainment venues, schools and residential complexes. There have also been large-scale attacks on public transportation including subways, buses, trains, and scheduled commercial flights,” it added.
“But what about the suggestion to our athletes that they not wear their uniforms outside of the Olympic venues. Has it really come to that that American athletes have to hide the fact that they're American athletes?” Karl asked.
“Yeah, I think it's an indicator of just how seriously our government takes this, the fact that there are real threats there. And even though Putin talks about the ring of steel around the main Olympic venue, the fact is once you get outside that venue or even going from venue to venue there is real vulnerability,” King said.
He urged athletes to “do everything they're asked to do by the security team, by the State Department, by the FBI, because they may feel safe, they may feel secure, wander off or wear some indicator that they're from the U.S. and just leave themselves open as a target.”