US lawmakers concerned about threats to Sochi Winter Olympics
Published on Jan 20, 2014 12:50 AM
WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States lawmakers raised concerns on Sunday about the threat of attacks at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, with one faulting Russia for not sharing intelligence.
"The threats are real. They are basically calling for attacks on the Olympics. I think you're going to see attempts to do that," said Mr Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, in an interview from Moscow with ABC's This Week programme. Mr McCaul said the Russian authorities were taking the threats seriously, deploying 100,000 security officials to erect a "ring of steel" to secure the Sochi airport, mountain trains and the Games themselves.
If there were attacks, he said, they would more likely be directed at soft targets like transportation.
The Republican congressman added that the diplomatic security corps said it was getting good cooperation from the Russians, and noted that two dozen Federal Bureau of Investigation agents were assigned to the games.
"It could be a lot better. I want to press that while here," he added, saying he wanted to know more about emergency evacuation planning.
Another key congressman, House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers, said the Russian authorities were clearly concerned about security.
"But we don't seem to be getting all of the information we need to protect our athletes in the games," he said on CNN's State of the Union programme. Mr Rogers, a Republican, said the Russians' unwillingness to share information with US intelligence was "a departure of cooperation that is very concerning to me".
"So what we're finding is they aren't giving us the full story about what are the threat streams, who do we need to worry about," the lawmaker said.
"Are the terrorist groups who have had some success, are they still plotting?" he continued.
"There's a missing gap and you never want that when you're going into something, I think, as important as the Olympic Games," he said.
The Games open on Feb 7 in Sochi, a resort city on the Black Sea coast.