By Melanie Batley
The FBI will be sending several dozen agents to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia to help boost security amid concerns about threats by extremists.
According to The Washington Post, FBI director James Comey told reporters Thursday the agency will be working with Russian intelligence services, and agents and personnel will have a presence in Moscow as well.
“Securing any Olympics is an enormous task,” Comey said, according to the Post. “I think it’s particularly challenging in Sochi because of its proximity to areas of unrest and sources of terrorist threat.”
Russia has already received credible threats from extremists who said they intend to target the Games opening Feb. 7, according to the post. Terrorists carried out two bombings last month in the city of Volgograd that killed 34 people and injured dozens.
During a wide-ranging interview with reporters at FBI headquarters, Comey also said that the bureau has become increasingly concerned about security at large venues and events generally, as the incidence of attacks on “soft targets” has increased.
He pointed in particular to the terrorist attack in September on Nairobi’s Westgate mallthat killed more than 70 people.
“We are taking a lot of steps with the Department of Homeland Security, state and local law enforcement, and the retail industry to train, to anticipate, to drill,” Comey said, according to the Post. “It was going on before Westgate, and that effort was given renewed energy by the Westgate tragedy.”
Comey also said there is growing concern that extremists who have been involved in the Syrian conflict could return to their home countries, including the United States, and carry out terrorist attacks.
“It is one of my greatest worries in the counterterrorism area. The conflict in Syria has attracted so many people from so many places of so many motivations, including Americans, that it is an enormous challenge for all intelligence services, including the FBI, to identify the ones of bad intent, to figure out where they’re going, why they’re going and keep track of them,” he said.
“As long as people are flowing in, learning how to kill other people and meeting really bad people, it’s going to be a big worry.”
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