BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) — With the Olympics now under way in Sochi, Russia, one local security expert said he wouldn’t go there even if he was supposed to be competing in the Winter Games.
Ian Von Gordon worked for the Department of Homeland Security for 12 years, as well as working for securities firm UBS in Europe. These days, Von Gordon works as the chief intelligence officer for the Diplomatic Protection Training Institute in Boardman.
Von Gordon said despite plenty of news reports concerning explosives in tubes of toothpaste, he thinks the real threat will be the potential for so-called sleeper cells of terrorists who could have been at the Olympic venues for months already, if not even longer. He thinks the toothpaste explosives is just a distraction for something bigger.
“It gave a lot of different organizations a chance to infiltrate the construction teams, as well as the host and service providers. And it would be very difficult to filter them out,” Von Gordon said. “Because if you’re doing good security, good airline security, that’s really not an issue. You’re going to be going through all the liquids and pastes, you’re going to be doing the regular security protocols and I just don’t think that poses the most serious threat.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a 40,000 soldier military force to Sochi to provide security for the Games.
But Von Gordon said that part of the country is located just a short distance from a number of former Soviet republics, including Chechnya, which have seen quite a bit of violence ever since the old Soviet Union fell apart. He said he can’t understand why Sochi was even chosen as the location for the 2014 Olympics.
“They’re allowing it to be located in one of the world’s most important trouble spots and there’s 20-plus years of violence and they’re just turning a blind eye to that,” Von Gordon said.
He said the likelihood of a terrorist incident during the Olympics, or even soon after they conclude as athletes and fans are leaving, make it far too dangerous to risk going over there.