WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told CBS News that “the security threat to the Olympics … [is] the greatest I think I’ve ever seen.”
McCaul, R-Texas, is freshly back from his trip to the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which begin on Feb. 7 in Sochi, Russia. He stated that the recent terrorist threats are both “concerning” and “spooky,” and added that there are numerous terrorist concerns.
“As a Homeland Security chairman, that is very disturbing to me in terms of the security at the Olympics,” McCaul told “Face the Nation.”
“It’s concerning. It’s a little spooky, combined with these so-called black widows we know are seeking revenge for their husbands’ death in the Caucasus region. And we know one of these black widows penetrated the ring of steel, if you will, that Putin has put up.”
The southern city of Volgograd was rocked by two suicide bombings in late December, which killed 34 and injured scores more. An Islamic militant group in Dagestan posted a video on Sunday claiming responsibility for the bombings and threatened to strike the games in Sochi, about 300 miles west of Dagestan.
McCaul stated that more recent threats from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri are calling for “global jihad” against the Olympic Games.
However, McCaul is not advising that foreigners avoid the games, saying that would indicate “the terrorists are winning.”
“I would say we should not scare people from attending the Olympics. It’s a time- honored tradition. If we do not support our team and show up, I think the terrorists are winning, and that’s what they’re trying to do here,” McCaul stated.
Echoing concerns from McCaul, former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell labeled the Sochi Olympics “the most dangerous Olympics” that he’s ever experienced, in a Monday interview with “CBS This Morning.”
“I think these are the most dangerous Olympics that I’ve experienced in my adult life,” Morell told CBS News. “You have a capable, dedicated, determined terrorist group that has been around for a long time that recently conducted two attacks in Russia (and) who say they want to attack during the games.”
Despite all the concerns, McCaul remained adamant that U.S. and Russian security officials are working at their highest level to secure the games.
“I don’t think it’s time to be an alarmist and cancel. If this thing gets worse, maybe we would consider that. But remember this ring of steel has about 100,000 security officials,” said McCaul. “We have also added our diplomatic security corps, FBI agents and others, to help with the security. The perimeter itself, I think, is secure, the Olympic Village. “
However, the congressman added that he thinks “the real threat lies outside this ring of steel where soft targets can be hit quite easily.”
“And I think you’re probably going to see more of those, like you just saw with that train bombing you had on the program earlier by a suicide bomber with buses. And they’re calling for more of these attacks just as of yesterday. So I think you’re going to see more of these attacks but outside the perimeter.”