- - Friday, January 24, 2014


Some of the athletes and tourists are growing wary of Sochi, the Russian city that will be the host for the Winter Olympic Games. They’re afraid they’re walking into a trap set by the Black Widows.

The widows were the wives of Islamic terrorists who died when they detonated suicide bombs in various places where radical Muslims have taken on the world. The Black Widows, some of whom may be in Sochi now, have threatened to spoil the big show.

It’s too late to find a safer site. The members of the International Olympic Committee who selected Sochi knew they were going to a dangerous place, but Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, said he would “do whatever it takes” to protect everyone.

Sochi is less than 400 miles from Dagestan, the capital of the anarchic Caucasus, where the Boston Marathon bombers grew up and lived before they came to the United States. The region is poor and rife with radical Muslims who are spoiling for a fight. It’s enough to make Olympians long for the Alps and peace, quiet, lederhosen and the world-class beer of Salzburg, an early contender for the 2014 games.

The Russian hosts promise expensive and impenetrable security. Mr. Putin, the old KGB hand, says he has “a perfect understanding of what that threat is, 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.”

He has 60,000 police officers, soldiers and special forces in Sochi, as part of the $50 billion spent on the games. KGB agents are not famous for making empty threats.

The United States has set aside misgivings about working closely with its old Cold War foe and is sending “assets” to stand by to help. U.S. Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby noted, “Air and naval assets, to include two Navy ships in the Black Sea, will be available if requested for all manner of contingencies in support of — and in consultation with — the Russian government.” So far, all is quiet on the eastern front.

There’s apprehension, but preparation, too, and the understanding that hoaxes abound, and there’s no thought of giving in to the terrorists. The world, after all, is a world of risks.

Just last week Spanish cyclist Javier Colorado, who set out to bicycle around the world in a show of athleticism, ran into the kind of troublemakers who could lurk in Sochi. His journey came to an end in Dalbandin, Pakistan, 220 miles from the capital of Baluchistan in a region described by the London Daily Mail as “plagued by kidnappers, Taliban militants, a violent separatist insurgency, sectarian killers, paramilitary death squads and drug traffickers.”

That’s a full menu of evildoers. Six guards escorting him were killed. He was injured, but survived.

Mr. Colorado was obviously in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sochi is determined not to be such a place. We wish Mr. Putin and his countrymen good luck. They’ll need it.

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