A police officer stands guard near a train station at the Olympic Park in the Adler district of Sochi
© Alexander Demianchuk / Reuter / REUTERS

Alex Witt   |  January 19, 2014

New terror threat against Sochi Olympics

NBC Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel reports on a new threat against the Sochi Winter Olympics and the security measures in place to prevent violence.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> new terror threat coming from a group possibly connected to the recent bombings in that country. meanwhile, the opening ceremonies are just 19 days away for the olympics. russian president vladimir putin is ensuring the world that the games will be safe.

>> translator: we have adequate means available to us through the interior ministry , armed forces units that will be involved in providing security. on the water and in the air. if necessary, all those tools will be activated.

>> so for more on the sochi security threats, richard engel . he's joining me now from moscow on the phone. what's the latest? what are you hearing here?

>> reporter: the latest is that there is a new threat, and it came in the form of a new online video that was posted today. and in this video, it's about an hour long, two young men who say that they were the bombers, suicide bombers of attacks that took place right around the new year. they say that there will be more attacks. this is a typical martyrdom video carried out before the attack. in this attack, they explain their motivations. they say that this is retribution. that this is punishment for russia , for russia 's stance in the caucuses, for russia 's support of the syrian government. and they say that there will be more attacks coming. more "surprises in store." and that russian security forces and tourists attending sochi won't be safe. so we have this new video today, supposedly taped by the bombers who attacked over new year's, threatening that there will be more attacks to come. we don't know how credible it is, but at this stage there's no reason to doubt that those two were responsible for the bombings over the new year, then they would be in a position to know if that organization is planning more attacks. so it is one more thing to be concerned about as these olympic games approach.

>> richard , you've reported to us from sochi . i want to get your perspective on the extent of security that's in place there. how many cameras, how many police on patrol, the extent to which you feel safe, the check points, all of that.

>> reporter: sochi is incredibly safe. it may be the safest city in russia right now. there are tens of thousands of security forces involved in securing the city. as demonstrated from vladimir putin , the russian government takes this very seriously and has deployed intelligence units, army units, entire divisions of police there. the concern is this group of militants based in the caucuses, which is a few hundred miles, about 600 to 800 miles from sochi , isn't talking about only carrying out an attack inside sochi , in the olympic park , but anywhere in the country. and this is an enormous country. it's got lots of soft targets. lots of train stations or buses. and they are just saying they will carry out an attack during the games in order to harm russia and their foreign guests. there was also another dynamic, another thing to be concerned about. that there might be a major shift under way in the leadership of the militants that operate in the caucuses. there are numerous reports that the leader of this militant group , that by the way has already threatened in the past to carry out attacks during sochi , now once again today saying that something is coming. there are numerous reports that the leader of this group has died, that he died from previous injuries and that he is -- they are now in the process of selecting a new leader. if that's the case, it adds another dynamic to all of this. because if a new leader comes and the old leader is dead, as often is the case a new leader has to prove himself and has to establish his credibility by doing something. so when you have a change in leadership and you have these new videos coming out, i think when you put them together, it is something that is significant.

>> and i want to echo what you were saying earlier, richard . because some u.s. officials are saying it is exactly that lack of infrastructure in sochi , specific like the roadways, that's what makes this city so vulnerable to a mass transit attack. and that would be what would potentially disrupt the games. what have you found with regard to going by the train stations and places where mass groups of people would be gathering to arrive and depart from sochi ?

>> reporter: it really depends on how far away that we're talking about. to get into the olympic park , it is like getting into a u.s. airport. you have to go through metal detectors . your bags are scanned very closely. maybe it's even tighter than most airport securities. they have the same kinds of imaging machines that can detect what you have on your body, under your clothing. so the security around the park and around the facilities that get to the park, the train station in sochi is very secure. the question is, what about all the other train stations that are part of this network, because people will be coming from all over russia to get to sochi . tourists and russians included, they won't just be showing up in sochi . to moscow , take another hop on a bus. so in sochi , yes, i think security is very strong. but the entire country, no, it's not in lockdown.

>> okay, richard , thank you very much for the comprehensive perspective from moscow . appreciate that.