Russia is trying to hunt down three potential suicide bombers, all female Muslims, who are suspected of planning to carry out threats to attack the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics starting February 7.
The three women are all the wives of killed terrorists, and are pictured wearing traditional Muslim head coverings in police fliers posted in Sochi. One of the women, Rosana Ibrahimova, is thought to already be in the city waiting in a hidden apartment, reports Yedioth Aharonoth.
Wives of killed terrorists are termed "black widows" in Russia, and are believed to have carried out two suicide bombings on Volgograd in southern Russia late last December, one attack leaving 18 dead and another killing 15 a day later.
The bombings were followed by threats posted on a well known jihadist forum, in which two men thought to have planned the bombings said in a video "we've prepared a present for you and all tourists who'll come over. If you hold the Olympics, you'll get a present from us for the Muslim blood that's been spilled."
Islamist insurgents based in North Caucasus republics such as Dagestan who are seeking their own independent state have vowed to disrupt the Sochi Games in order to undermine Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In response, Putin has deployed up to 60,000 security personnel to guard the Olympics games, more than double the amount employed in London's 2012 Summer Games, reports the Washington Post.
The Sochi Olympics will also be the most expensive yet, costing $50 billion as opposed to $16 billion spent on the London games. Security forces will reportedly use drones, warships stationed in the Black Sea opposite Sochi's coast, and various intelligence means to combat the terror threat.
The US also intends to send two warships to the Black Sea to provide support, and if needed to evacuated American citizens.
"The threats are real. They are basically calling for attacks on the Olympics. I think you're going to see attempts to do that," said Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Last weekend Putin declared “we have a perfect understanding of what it is, what is that threat, how to stop it, how to combat it. I hope that our law enforcement agencies will deal with it with honor and dignity, just as it was during other major sports and political events.”