Sleepers in Sochi and Other Potential Threat

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I wrote this more than a few days ago, but didn't get to post it until coming across reports of a suspected female suicide bomber lurking in Sochi.

The photograph of the suspect clad in headscarf and long dress is of course useful to have, but might be actually misleading to untrained vigilantes in Sochi.

I bet the suspect would change her outfit to blend in, just like the recent Volgograd bomber did, dressing like a hipster, -or like Zarema Muzhikhoeva who dressed as your average Moscow student, but in the end failed to detonate the bomb in Moscow.

Such a change of outfit is prerequisite if a terrorist wants to dodge racial profiling by your average patrolman in 'mainland Russia' as is Slav appearance (albeit the latter is not as important in Sochi, which is homes to tens of thousands of natives of the South and North Caucasus).

Therefore, I hope patrolmen and vigilantes in Sochi have been at least told to suspend their propensity for racial profiling for now and focus on behavior rather than look for headscarves or darker skin.

Russian authorities have created a number of security perimeters to prevent unauthorized access to the Sochi area, but these perimeters may prove be to ineffective against sleepers. These could be long-time permanent residents of Sochi – who might have been already recruited by terrorists, or, more likely,  terrorists who have moved and registered in Sochi as permanent residents long ago to blend in and bide their time in anticipation of the games. 

Neither would these security rings prevent use of explosives (or weapons) if those have already been stashed in Sochi or even embedded in walls of sports facilities during their construction. If reports of hundreds of illegal migrants working at Sochi construction sites are true, then some of these migrants could have tried to embed explosives in such a way. Jamming communications at such facilities during sports events could be one way to try prevent detonation of such explosives, but I am not sure it is practical, given the needs of the teams, organizers and some of the VIP spectators.

Hopefully, massive concentration of law-enforcement personnel would ultimately prevent any attacks during the Games even if law-enforcers failed to detect the possible sleepers ahead of the Games. Massive deployment might not be very effective, but hopefully quantity will change into quality this time.

UPD: Another threat I listed in a January 9th note:

  1. Death on arrival: Russian security services may have built an impenetrable security fence around Sochi, but this fence would do little to prevent explosion of a bomb that may have been planted in a plane before it had taken off in another Russian city, which could be a major transit port en route to Sochi,  or in foreign country (where security could be not so rigorous as in Russia) and timed to explode upon the plane’s arrival in the Sochi airport.
    • Also to watch out for is use of small planes as missile as such planes can fly literally below the radar of the air defense systems deployed around Sochi in time for the games.

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