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U.S. lawmakers fret over terror threats against Olympic games

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The House Homeland Security Committee chairman and other lawmakers appearing on the Sunday morning news shows discussed the threat of Islamist terrorist attacks on athletes and spectators during the upcoming Olympic games in Sochi, Russia.

Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repeated statements that his minions will take any and all steps to protect athletes and visitors, U.S. government officials and legislators remain concerned about the well-being of America's Olympic team, according to an Examiner news story.

“The threats are real,” Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos.

Prior to serving in the U.S. Congress, Michael McCaul served as Chief of Counter Terrorism and National Security in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Western District of Texas, and he personally led the Joint Terrorism Task Force charged with detecting, deterring and preventing terrorist activity.

Although there are numerous assurances from all of those charged with providing security and public safety during the Winter Games, McCaul still thinks an attack in Russia next month will most likely occur outside of the Sochi with terrorists instead going after “soft targets” such as roads and transportation systems using improvised explosive devices (IED) or other weapons, he said during his interview with Stephanopoulos.

McCaul spoke with Sunday morning news anchors from Moscow this weekend and his comments were preceded by an interview with Putin, who said the job of the Olympic host is to provide security and “we will do whatever it takes.”

Both McCaul's and Putin's concerns were voiced following a series of threats and the apparent terrorist attacks that have already taken place in Russia.

On Sunday, in a new video that was posted on the website of the Chechen militant group Vilayat Dagestan, two militants vowed that tourists and Russians attending the games would not be safe.

In the video, the men sitting in front of black banners with Arabic verses but speaking in Russian warned Putin and the Russian government that if the Olympics are held in Russia in Februrary, "we will give you a present for the innocent Muslim blood being spilled all around the world."

They also added in the video that the tourists and Olympic spectators will also receive a "present" from the Jihadists.

According to news reports, nine innocent civilians were wounded when a bomb was detonated in the Russian province of Dagestan, which has become the territory selected for Islamist terror operations that have spread across the Caucasus region following two wars between the Muslims in Chechnya and the Russian military.

Friday's bombing was not as deadly as the two suicide bombing attacks in Volgograd in late December 2013 that killed 31 people. The first attack was at a bus depot, while the second took place at a train station. The attacks were limited to Russia's North Caucasus region, where at least one of the Boston Marathon bombers resided.

Rep. McCaul has said that he suspects the two suicide bombers in December were connected to an al-Qaeda branch.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, and Chairman McCaul in separate interviews on Sunday all agreed that all concerned seek better cooperation between U.S. and Russian officials with the Olympic's opening ceremonies fast approaching.

Rep. Rogers, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, mentioned his suspicion that Russian officials aren't sharing their intelligence gathering with the United States. "We don't seem to be getting the information we need to protect our athletes," he said on CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley.

"They're not giving us the full story," Rogers said. "I don't think anything will abate that concern short of full cooperation from the Russian security services."

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