Winter Games a Danger Zone for Americans?

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There are growing concerns about terror attacks at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, which are scheduled to begin Feb. 6.

An Islamist group in the country's North Caucasas, calling itself Vilayat Dagestan, posted a video online in which it warned Russian President Vladimir Putin against hosting the games.

"If you hold the Olympics, we will make a present on our part for all the Muslim blood that is being innocently spilled around the world," one of the men says in the video, which has since been removed from YouTube.

CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck talked more about the terror threat facing the Winter Olympic Games, on CBN Newswatch, Jan. 20.

Nevertheless, Russian leaders, who have transformed Sochi into a virtual police state, insist the Winter Olympic Games will be safe.

"The job of the Olympics host is to ensure security of the participants in the Olympics and visitors. We will do whatever it takes," Putin vowed.

But the United States says the Russian government needs to be more cooperative.

"What we're finding is they aren't giving us the full story about what are the threat streams," Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., charged.

Meanwhile, U.S. military and intelligence officials are studying contingency plans for evacuating Americans if the need arises. Even some athletes have set up their own private security and emergency evacuation plans.

The State Department is warning American visitors to be cautious in their travels to the games, and at least one U.S. senator said it's too dangerous to go.

"I would not go, and I don't think I would send my family," Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said.

In the face of these concerns, the terror group behind last month's attacks in Volgograd posted a video claiming to show the suicide bombers responsible. They're seen building explosives and traveling to their target, and they warn of a surprise package for those who come to the games.

"The long and short of it is that Vladimir Putin and the Russian government will be very lucky to get through the Olympics without an incident," national security expert Christopher Swift said.

President Barack Obama will not attend the games, but he's sending gay and lesbian former athletes, including tennis great Billie Jean King as part of the official U.S. delegation. 

The move is intended as a kind of protest against Russia's policies toward homosexuals, one that could further inflame anti-U.S. sentiments in the areas of Muslim unrest.

For the athletes, dreams are at stake. For the Russians, it's a matter of prestige, and for TV networks -- billions of dollars. They are all enticing targets for those in the dream-shattering business.

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John Waage

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John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.