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A memorial ceremony held in 1974 in Tel Aviv, where a tribute to the victims of the Munich massacre was unveiled. ( Government Press Office)

How Worried Should We Be About Terrorism at the Sochi Olympics?

The 1972 summer games held in Munich, Germany, suffered the worst terrorist attack in history

Two back-to-back attacks this past weekend in Volgograd, Russia, killed 17 people at a railway station and 14 more on a public bus. Although no one has come forth to take responsibility for the two suicide bombings, they come shortly after a call by a Chechen leader for increased violence in light of the upcoming Russian Olympics. The Washington Times reports

In June, Doku Umarov, the leader of the Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus, lifted a moratorium on terrorist attacks inside Russia and in a videotaped message instructed rebels to use “maximum force” to disrupt the Winter Games.

“They are planning to hold the games on the bones of many, many Muslims buried on our land by the Black Sea. It is incumbent on us as Muslims not to permit that, resorting to any methods Allah allows us,” said Umarov, who is Chechen.


Experts warn that terrorist attacks or attempted attacks in Russia will likely escalate in the coming weeks, as the Olympics approach. Before  the London 2012 Olympics, the terrorism threat from both radical Islamists and Irish dissidents was ranked as "severe," according to the Daily Mail, meaning "an attack is highly likely"—although those Games went off without an incident.

But the Olympics are always a tempting target. During the 1996 summer Olympics hosted in Atlanta, a bomb set off by an American killed two people and injured more than 100. The 1972 summer games held in Munich, Germany, suffered the worst attack in history, when Palestinian terrorists took eleven Israeli athletes hostage. Two of the athletes were executed almost immediately, and the other nine were later killed in what is now referred to as the Munich massacre. Europe took the event as an impetus to begin developing more stringent anti-terrorism measures.

As for Russia's Olympic terrorism problem, Aleksey Popov, a former member of the Alpha special forces unit, told RT"I believe it won’t have any effect on the Olympics and the people who were planning to come will still do it. They are safe because almost $2 billion was allocated to security measures; that’s even more than the sum for the London Olympics.”

More from Smithsonian.com:

How Technology Fights Terrorism 
Fighting Terrorism in the Future

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