Militant urges use of force to prevent Winter Olympics

Reuters, MOSCOW

Thu, Jul 04, 2013 - Page 7

The leader of an Islamist insurgency in Russia’s North Caucasus region urged followers yesterday to use “maximum force” to prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin staging next year’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

In a video posted on a Web site that is a mouthpiece for militants seeking an Islamist state, insurgent leader Doku Umarov said an order not to attack Russian targets outside the North Caucasus had been canceled.

The Games are due to be held in February next year in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, close to the volatile and mountainous North Caucasus region in southern Russia. Putin has promised tight security at the Games, on which he has staked his reputation.

“They [Russia] plan to hold the Olympics on the bones of our ancestors, on the bones of many, many dead Muslims, buried on the territory of our land on the Black Sea and we as mujahidin are obliged to not permit that, using any methods allowed us by the almighty Allah,” Umarov said in the video.

The authenticity of the video could not immediately be established independently, but Umarov, Russia’s most-wanted man, has regularly posted videos on the Web site to send messages to the Islamic fighters he refers to as mujahidin.

“I call on you, every mujahid, either in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan or on the territory of the Caucasus, to use maximum force on the path of Allah to disrupt this Satanic dancing on the bones of our ancestors,” he said, referring to predominantly Muslim regions in Russia.

A veteran of two separatist wars in Chechnya since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Umarov has taken responsibility for organizing numerous attacks, including a suicide bombing that killed 37 people at a Moscow airport in January 2011.