Officials in Whitehall have predicted more terror attacks in Russia ahead of the Winter Olympics – and fear that militants will successfully target the Sochi Games themselves.
A twin bomb attack on nearby Volgograd claimed 34 lives in December, with Dagestan-based militant group Vilayat claiming responsibility.
But a different, linked Islamist group called Imarat Kavkaz (IK) has been identified by the British as the biggest risk in the region, after their leader Emir Doku Umarov specifically called on supporters to disrupt the games.
The BBC claims to have seen the report, which also questions the group’s ability to plan and execute an attack on the Games, which Russian president Vladimir Putin said would be protected “by a ring of steel” that was absent in Volgograd.
The report also says that Westerners are unlikely to be specifically targeted, as jihadists in the Caucasus specifically hold grievances with Russia’s government.
However, it adds that Russian jihadists returning from Syria could attack Westerners, while non-Russians could suffer collateral damage associated with a bomb attack.
Additionally, the Boston Marathon bombings last year were carried out by two young men from the Caucasus region whose grievances with Russia apparently became conflated with US military action in other Muslim countries.
Jihadists in Dagestan, Chechnya and other parts of the Russian Caucasus want a separate, Islamic state and have frequently attacked both military and civilian targets.
Some have also called the Olympics ‘un-Islamic’, but the threat is understood to be more linked to the Russian government’s role in the Games than any specific hatred of sports.
There have also been several hoax threats made against the Games.
As a result, Russia has stepped up security around Sochi, while suspected potential female suicide bombers have been publicly identified by the authorities.
These women are known as either “White Widows” or “Black Widows” because their militant husbands or partners have been killed by Russian forces.
They are seen as a particularly big threat due to their gender and ability to hide in plain sight by wearing non-traditional clothes.
The United States has also given help to Russia, sending two warships to the Black Sea and offering “unspecified air assets” and FBA agents as part of an intelligence-sharing project.