Sochi SITREP Part 4

People on the national news, Twitter and elsewhere are very focused on the borderline “third world” conditions to be found in Sochi, where the Winter Olympics begin tomorrow. Though unappetizing, the presence of dingy yellow tap water is not in our mind nearly as serious as the continued terror threat – though Putin’s government continues to downplay it. We hope bad plumbing and a scarcity of lightbulbs are all the athletes have to deal with, but we’ll see. There are more than “direct action threats” to worry about – remember, Sochi is closer to Chechnya than LA is to San Francisco, and those Jihadis have a proven track record for murderous efficiency. Here’s the latest Sochi SITREP from Groz. Mad Duo

Sochi SITREP Pt 4

In the past week and a half we have witnessed a drastic shift in the operational tempo of both Russian Security Forces and the Islamic Caucasus Emirate.  The series of dramatic counter terror operations by the Russians have ground to a halt.  ICE Jihadis have seemingly ceased attacks in Dagestan.  Information or intelligence releases from the Russian government has also been scarce.  So what is happening in the so-called “Ring of Steel” and the Caucasus region as a whole?  Have the Russian Security Services annihilated ICE, as Vladimir Putin hailed in his New Year speech?  Were Dmitry Medvedev’s statements on Olympic Security in contrast to that of the West correct?  Let us begin our analysis of the situation – the reason for the lack of action in the last week is much more sinister than any of these assumptions.

Significant Events in the Past Week

The Russian National Anti-terror Committee or (NAK) has finally released positive identification of the Volgograd suicide bombers.  The two bombers were identified as Asker Samdov and Suleyman Magomedov.  NAK also stated that the two had operated out of Buynaksk, and that two accomplices had also been arrested in Dagestan.  Russian immigration officials also shed light on the arrests of over a dozen Al Qaeda or AQ linked terror suspects in the last few months, including an Egyptian AQ member in October, and fifteen members of At Takfir Wal Hijra (an AQ affiliate founded in Egypt) back in November. 

The large number of foreign Jihadis coming into Russia does not bode well for the Olympic security situation. It lends authenticity to Doku Umarov’s calls for Jihadis to converge on Sochi.  The names of more potential Black Widow suicide bombers and their support elements have  also been released.  These individuals include Jhannet Tsakhaeva from Dagestan, Oksana Aslanova from Turkmenistan, and two males suspects named Ruslan Saufutdinov and Murad Musaev.  This press release will surely add to the hysteria of Black Widow attacks in the Western Media. 

The Russian parliament or Duma has also increased the penalties for terrorism in a recent bill.  It has also been released in Western media that the U.S.’s outreach to assist Russian Security Forces in protecting the Olympic Games will not include hardware.  The Russian government has asked for U.S. electronic counter measures (ECMs) to defeat ICE bombings.  These are the same systems utilized by U.S. and it’s allies in Iraq and Afghanistan to stop command detonated IED’s.  The U.S. stated that the release of such technology could fall into enemy hands and neutralize the effectiveness of the systems during future U.S. operations.  This seems to have started a minor row over how much help Western nations will contribute to the Russians

The Islamic Caucusus Emirate Media Blitz

The Islamic Caucasus Emirate has used it’s new found notoriety to release more and more information through Jihadi media sources.  As international media especially Western media sources provide more and more coverage to the Sochi situation ICE has become more and more of known group.  Much like the Taliban these media sources facilitate the Jihadis ability to craft a narrative for their supporters, and attempt to sway international opinion.  Also in Taliban fashion the ICE Jihadis have begun to use their sources to refute government information.  An example is the recent high profile raid in Dagestan where video was released to the media by Russian Security Forces.  This is the same video I discussed in the previous article concerning the use of thermobaric weapon systems.  It is clear in the video that the Russians conducted some type of tactical call out for any civilians inside the compound or for the surrender of ICE forces inside.  However, ICE is countering this information saying the compound contained civilians and that the Russian Security Forces killed these civilians. 

ICE is not only using it’s new found notoriety for counter information operations, it is also blasting propaganda to anyone that will listen.  Vilayat Dagestan (the ICE affiliate behind the Volgograd attacks) has used typical Jihadi rhetoric in a recent release, “decapitate the hydra of the Kremlin or face further attacks”.  In this quotation we see the political action aspect of ICE’s operations.  It must be remembered that ICE’s actions against the Sochi Games are an outlet for their overarching political goals of establishing a Caliphate in the same manner as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham or any other AQ group.

The Calm Before the Storm

There as always has been much speculation as to why ICE has gone quiet.  However, to those who are versed on past Chechen actions this sort of “operational pause” is a well known tactic, technique and procedure (TTP).  In both the Chechen Wars the Jihadis have used the Operational Pause to great effect (remember the infamous subway assault I mentioned in Part 1).  I believe we are currently in the midst of an operational pause. ICE will lay low and lull the Russian Security Forces into a sense of false security until they launch their main emphasis.  That is not to say that we couldn’s see an attack by another group as. The call to Jihad has been called out to all who will heed it. 

The main concern during this Operational Pause will be how the Russians react.  In approaching this I find myself thinking back to the “Complacency Kills” signs found on all major Forwarded Operating Bases and Camps in Iraq. All units passed them when leaving the wire.  These signs were the butt of many 03 and 11Bravo’s jokes during deployments, but their message is one the Russians would be well served to follow.   The Operational Pause is particularly effective on units with low discipline or a weak NCO corps (which has plagued Russian and former Soviet forces for decades).   Hopefully shifts in Russian doctrine (such as the seeming change towards Scalpel vs. Hammer operations and increased

professionalism in Russian CT units) have rectified these problems – in this case, complacency will kill. 

Read the background on the Russian Scalpel vs. Russian Hammer, ICE’s tactics and the previous SOCHI SITREPS:

Sochi SITREP Part 1:

Sochi SITREP Part 2:

Sochi SITREP Part 3:

Sochi SITREP Part 4:


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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *