According to the Russians, there is no greater threat to the Olympics at Sochi than those anywhere else. We disagree. So does Groz.

We are absolutely sure that we will be able to protect all athletes at the Olympics and I will repeat it, we will do our best to host the Olympics very well. Frankly, there are no more threats to the Olympics in Sochi than there are to Olympics in other places. The world is global. We know about the sad events that have taken place at sports events in other countries, including the United States, and it is unjust and wrong to say that all threats now concentrate around Sochi.” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev


by guest-writer “Groz”

Since the last installment of the Sochi Sitrep Russian Security Forces have operated at a frantic pace.  As predicted in the last article a number of high profile capture/kill operations have been launched across the Caucasus.  These operations have followed Russia’s new counter terror doctrine.  Between the violent security and counter terror operations and the Islamic Caucus Emirate (ICE) taking public responsibility for the Volgograd bombing, the Western media has worked itself into a frenzy.  Compounding the situation further is news of “Russia’s Number One Terrorist” Doku Umarov yet again being killed by security forces (this according to Ramzan Kadyrov). Let us begin a closer analysis of the last week’s events. 

The Russian Scalpel Slices

As alluded to in the beginning of the article Russian Security Forces and SOF have conducted several capture/kill operations in the Caucasus.  The first on January 15th near Khasavyurt, Dagestan was a particularly brutal close quarter battle.  Russian FSB special purpose troops located and closed with several ICE Jihadis that had gone firm in a house.  Special operations forces set up stopper groups as FSB attempted to make entry into the building.  The attempted entry was conducted at night. This is a departure from most Russian operations, which traditionally taking place during daylight.  While assaulting the home the assaulters came under heavy machine gun fire and grenade attacks.  The Jihadis then attempted to escape and evade running into the SOF stopper groups.  Four militants were killed while Russian forces took 3 killed in action and 5 wounded in action.  The 3 KIAs are believed to have been SOF.  While conducting sensitive site exploitation the Russian forces found a large IED and a magnetic mine. 

The next operation, conducted just three days later, shows how quickly the Russian SOF and Security Forces are adapting tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).  This mission took place near Makhachkala, Dagestan and resulted in the deaths of 7 Jihadis, including a possible black widow.   Eldar Magatov, a senior militant, was one of the 7 militants killed.  During this mission the Russian forces cordoned off the building the Jihadis were in and conducted a tactical call out of civilians.  Security Forces used decisive force to neutralize the Jihadis inside the structure.  This operation was captured on film and showed Russian forces using up to 5 therombaric rockets in the form of RPO-A Shmel shoulder fired rockets.  Apparently the Russians do not care for kinetic or explosive breaching as much as Western units; instead, as in several other raids, they used a BTR-80 APC to knock a wall down for entry. 

When viewing this operation versus the January 15th operation and its high casualties, the Russians have adjusted their TTPs.  This bodes well for the Russian SOF and Security Forces as they have typically been slow to adapt to enemy TTPs.  Most often it has been ICE or Chechen forces that adapt much faster to the Russians.  As a former assaultman, this operation also shows how beneficial thermobaric weapons are during urban operations.  Platforms such as the Shmel are much more effective in this application than anti-armor platforms such as the AT-4 or Javelin.  Several Shmels basically demolished a large well built concrete building.

The day following the successful capture/kill operation in Makhachkala, ICE released a statement of responsibility for the bombings in Volgograd.   The “Mujahid Subversive Group of Ansar al Sunnah” released the video through Jihadi media sources.  They are under the umbrella of ICE and Al Qaeda, as clearly displayed by the AQ black banner shown in the background of the video.  The two suicide bomber were Suleiman and Abdul Rahman (obviously nom de guerre’s and not very original at that).  During the video they displayed the construction of the suicide vests, and showed the two bombers disturbingly jubilant on the way to their final destinations.  Also during the video the two bombers said that follow on operations were already planned and either “presents’’ or “packages” (according to different translations) awaited their enemies. 

Interestingly enough, Ansar al Sunnah is linked to Al Qaeda in Iraq or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham as it is now known.  This will not surprise anyone from 2/2 or any other unit that encountered Chechen Mujh in Iraq.

ICE Breaking the Ring of Steel

ICE has not been silent in the face of Russian counter terror operations this last week.  Dagestan has been the site of grenade and small arms attacks during the same time period.  Also the much talked about and feared “Black Widows”, the wives of slain ICE Jihadis, have once again come into the spotlight.  Western media pulled out all the stops for wall to wall coverage of Russian Security Forces looking for 4 Black Widows supposedly already within the “Ring of Steel,” which is what Purin has come to call the security measures around Sochi.

The release of flyers showing the description of Ruzanna “Salima” Ibragimova being posted in hotels in the Sochi area has caused an uproar in Western Media.  Ibragimova has been missing from Dagestan for over a month and is a HVT (High Value Target) for the Russian Security Forces, as she is a prime suspect for Black Widow operations as her husband was killed last year.  She is believed to be with three other Black Widows inside the Ring of Steel.  The release of such information before a suicide operation however, does not fit the ICE standard operating procedures for “martyrdom operations” (which is how they refer to such suicide bombings).  As witnessed in the Volgograd bombings it can be weeks to months before credit is taken for such operations, and such operations are compromised if the identity of the bombers is known before the operation is conducted.  This could be a psychological operation by ICE to increase tension in the West before the games, or to dra

w Security Forces away from infiltration routes to inside Sochi.  It must also be remembered that the Volgograd bombings were originally attributed to Black Widows by the Russian media.  Black Widows have become a potent means to increase fear in the Russian and international population as they seem to inspire even more fear than traditional suicide bombings by men.  The only piece of intelligence to corroborate the knowledge of Black Widows before they strike is that one was allegedly captured and interrogated. 

Contributing significantly to Western media hysteria as the Winter Olympics draw closer was the reported death of the emir of ICE Doku Umarov last week.  This information came from one of the most unreliable sources in the Caucasus: Ramzan Kadyrov, Russia’s strong man in Chechnya.  He has claimed Umarov’s death numerous times before, as recently as December.  The claims of Umarov’s death came from alleged intercepted ICE communications speaking of succession of their emir.  Compounding the lack of a body were statements by Sergei Goncharo, the head of a former Alfa group members association (Alfa is a highly specialized Russian Counter-Terror unit).  Goncharov said that security agencies would have gone public if this was in fact true.  Also, no martyrdom message has been released by ICE nor has a successor named despite how important the current time is for for ICE operations.  

From the Russian side, it would be a public relations victory for the Russians akin to the killing of Bin Laden was for the US if Umarov had indeed been killed by Security Forces.  It would make no sense for Putin to not proclaim the death of ICE’s emir if these stories of his death were true.

More to follow.


Sochi SITREP Part 1:

Sochi SITREP Part 2:

Sochi SITREP Part 3:

Sochi SITREP Part 4:


Images courtesy of Russia Today and the talents of Vitaly Kuzmin.

About the Author: Sean “Groz” Burke is a former Assault Section Leader in the Marine Corps infantry with combat deployments to assorted sunny Middle Eastern and African locations. During his tenure as a gyrene many doors were kicked, gates blown and people’s days excessively ruined. During these deployments Sean often instructed the use of foreign weapon systems, helped his command understand the armament capabilities of the enemy and was his unit’s resident “terp wrangler.” He attended numerous PME schools, including Sensitive Site Exploitation and the Iraqi Arabic and Culture Course. After departing the Marine Corps Sean graduated Temple University with a degree in history and is now (no shit) a high school teacher. When not teaching he continues to compulsively study foreign weapon systems, world affairs and foreign policy. Groz is one of the biggest geardos the Mad Duo knows (which is really saying something). He is a wealth of information regarding al things Cordura, Steel and COMBLOC.


Mad Duo, Breach-Bang-CLEAR!

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