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Threat Assessment for the Sochi Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games

Note: Printable Version Available

Notable Attacks by IK and its Predecessors

1. The objective of this document is to provide Canadians who will be travelling to Russia and plan to attend the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games (WOPG) with information on the terrorist threat in Russia. (U)

2. Large-scale international events such as the WOPG can present an attractive target for terrorists. There is presently no specific threat to Canadians at the Games; however, terrorism in the North Caucasus, close to Sochi, has been an almost daily reality since the Chechen Wars in the 1990s. Russian security will be extensive, but this does not eliminate the risk of terrorist attacks. Lone actor attacks, such as occurred at the Boston Marathon in 2013, are particularly difficult for authorities to detect in advance. (U)

3. The top terrorist threat in Russia and the most likely threat to the WOPG are from individuals linked to, or inspired by, the North Caucasus-based terrorist umbrella group, Imirat Kavkaz (IK, Caucasus Emirate). Canada listed IK as a terrorist entity in December 2013. Doku Umarov formed the group in 2007 with the objective of creating an Islamist caliphate. Attacks by the IK and its predecessors have taken place in the North Caucasus region but also in central Russia. (U)

4. In a July 2013 online video, Umarov called on his followers to stop the WOPG. The December 2013 suicide bombings in Volgograd, which killed 34, may be linked to IK and intended to discourage attendance. On 2014 01 20 a video  posted on an extremist website  claimed responsibility for the Volgograd attacks on behalf of the Dagestan Vilayat, a component of the IK. The individuals in the video threatened attacks on tourists attending the Games. (U)

5. Historically, the IK has targeted Russian authorities (security and military forces), public transportation (airports, railways, buses), and other infrastructure. Should an attack occur during the Olympics, potential targets could be in the Sochi area as well as in comparatively less secured locations, including Moscow and other places where foreigners could be transiting to and from the Games. IK tactics feature suicide bombings (including by women) and military-style assaults. (U)

6. While IK is the only known terrorist group which has expressed an intention to target the WOPG, other groups and individuals could also attempt terrorist attacks. Canadians should consult the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) Travel Advisory for Russia page and the Travelling to Sochi page for important updated information on Russian security conditions, entry and exit requirements, health, laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Canadians travelling to Russia are encouraged to register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service offered by DFATD. Furthermore, Canadians should maintain a high level of security awareness at all times and places, avoid demonstrations, monitor local developments, and follow the advice of local authorities. (U)

The Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC)

The Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC) is the Government of Canada’s integrated centre of excellence for terrorism threat analysis. It produces integrated, comprehensive, and timely assessments on terrorism threats to Canada and Canadian interests, at home and abroad. ITAC is a resource of the Canadian security and intelligence community, staffed by representatives of federal government ministries and agencies. ITAC’s assessments advise of potential terrorist threats so that steps can be taken to prevent or mitigate these threats. For more information on ITAC, please visit, (U)