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Will Sochi Olympics be another Munich?

By Walter Geiger I remember well the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in September 1972. I was preparing to make the move from the metropolis of Ailey, Ga. for my freshman year at UGA. I remember the opening ceremony and the release of thousands of doves. I remember the cowardly actions of the Palestinians that turned sportscasters Jim McKay and Howard Cosell into newscasters on the front lines of the biggest story of their careers. I remember the buses ferrying the terrorists and their hostages to two helicopters, the flight to an old airfield and the violent end. When the smoke cleared, seven Israelis had been gunned down either at the Olympic village or the air base. Another four burned to death when a grenade was thrown into the helicopter in which they were tied. Of the eight terrorists who were dressed in track suits and climbed a fence into the village, five were killed outright in the final firefight. Three survived and were later released as ransom for an airliner full of hostages. They were hailed as heroes back home. Israeli assassination teams hunted down and killed two. The third may still be alive and in hiding, depending on whose account you believe. The Olympic village in Munich was patrolled by 400 police officers. None were armed. Germany was criticized worldwide for its lack of security and responded by forming what is one of the world’s elite security forces of today. Flash forward 42 years to Sochi, Russia where the Winter Olympics get underway next month. Security is everywhere at the Sochi airport. Downtown, cameras tricked out with facial recognition technology scan everyone. The security zone, called the Ring of Steel, is 60 miles long and 25 miles wide. There will be no terrorists climbing the fence. Access is tightly controlled. Those with tickets will go through the facial recognition process at close range and, if picked out, be subjected to a full body scanner. They will pass twice through metal detectors and have tickets and IDs checked three times. There are highly sophisticated artillery and anti-aircraft missile systems hidden away in the mountains around the venue area. Despite all this, many people think Sochi will experience a terror attack. Bill Rathburn, a former police chief in Dallas and Los Angeles, directed security for the 1996 games in Atlanta which were hit by the Eric Rudolph bombing at Centennial Olympic Park. Of Sochi, Rathburn says, ‘The security threat is higher than it’s ever been in the history of the Olympic Games. In my opinion, it’s not a matter of whether there will be some incident. It’s just a matter of how bad it will be.’ Russia’s bin Laden, a Chechen terror monger named Doku Umarov, is urging on potential attackers. He wants jihadists to violently disrupt the games which he termed ‘˜satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors’. Bright chap this Doku. There are also concerns about Black Widows ‘“ the wives and girlfriends of slain terrorists ‘“ staging attacks. One has been seen in Sochi and others may be there also. Wanted posters bearing possible images of these women are everywhere. Meanwhile, individual U.S. teams have hired private security consultants. The U.S. has warships and transport aircraft nearby and is ready to take charge of the evacuation of Americans if the caviar hits the fan. And, the word is out. Hundreds of thousands of tickets for Olympic events remain unsold which is tantamount to economic terror in and of itself. It seems to me the Sochi games and the athletes there are an attractive terror target. I hope I’m wrong. The memories of Munich are all too fresh. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and the Pike County Journal Reporter.

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