The PJ Tatler

Co-Chair of Russia Caucus Would Have 'Trepidation' About Travel to Sochi

The co-chairman of the Congresional Russia Caucus said today that he’d have serious second thoughts about letting his family go to Sochi for the Winter Olympics given the security risks.

Asked by CNN if Americans should go to the Games, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) responded that his “natural instinct would be to say yes, because you don’t want the terrorists ultimately to win.”

“You know that’s what — you know, the — one of the main goals of terrorism is to invoke fear and stop people from living their daily lives. And we don’t ever want to completely give into that,” Grimm said.

“But I would be disingenuous not to say that I have serious concerns. And if you are asking me, would I send my family there, I would have trepidation because there are serious and credible threats that we know about and I’m not completely convince that the Russians will be able to completely keep us safe,” he added. “And that being said, it’s not a slight against Russia. No one can completely keep you safe, not against terrorism. There’s just too many vulnerabilities.”

Wanted posters have been posted at hotels around Sochi looking for Ruzanna “Salima” Ibragimova, the widow of a terrorist from the Caucasus, fearing that she may have already arrived in the region and is planning “a terrorist act within the 2014 Olympic region.”

The Volgograd bombers also left behind a video that was posted on a jihadist web forum Sunday, promising, “We’ve prepared a present for you and all tourists who’ll come over. If you will hold the Olympics, you’ll get a present from us for the Muslim blood that’s been spilled.

The Pentagon said Monday evening that it’s prepared to offer air support and two ships in the Black Sea to Russia to protect the Sochi Games.

“I think they’re doing the very best they can,” Grimm said of Russia’s security efforts. “…When you talk about security, it’s basically like an onion. And the very center of the onion is the area most protected. So if you’re going to be in the venue watching the actual competitive games, that’s probably the safest place to be because that’s where the concentration of security will be.”

“But as you go out and you start to peel away the layers of that onion, the outer most layers are your most vulnerable areas. So for people that are going, obviously they want to see the games. But they also want to see Russia. They want to enjoy the culture. They want to do what most tourists do. And I don’t believe you’re going to be able to make sure that every restaurant, every museum, all the tourists spots that could be a mile, two miles away from the actual competitive games and from these stadiums, there’s absolutely no way you can keep all of those safe.”

Grimm said security services are actually looking for three black widows who may have slipped into the security perimeter, widows of Chechen or Dagestani terrorists. “So there are certainly credible threats and it’s impossible to be completely safe,” he added.

The U.S. plan to help out Russia with military support also doesn’t make sense, the congressman said.

“Number one, will Russia allow us to use the air support, the naval support in their sovereign nation? It really is up to them to make that decision. So that’s the first thing that makes me a little uncomfortable,” Grimm said.

“The second thing is, I worked, you know, deep undercover with the FBI. And when you have a backup team, they often tell you that if something goes wrong, or as we say if something breaks bad, the most that backup team will do is give you a proper burial because the truth is, if there’s an explosion of some sort, yes, can we evacuate those that survive? Sure. But, unfortunately, once that explosive device goes off, the casualties already have been had. And that’s the part that really the United States cannot do that much about,” he continued.

“I hope that we are collaborating and working in conjunction with the Russians so that we can help them any way we can to beef up their own security in their sovereign nation.”