Nightly News   |  January 24, 2014

Dagestan Disappearances Linked to Sochi, Families Say

Dozens of young men are now missing from what is considered Russia’s most dangerous region.

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

>>> as concern over those olympic threats continues, tonight, nbc news has gained rare access to one of the most remote and dangerous places on the planet. dagestan , a center of terrorism, not far from sochi and the center of many of these threats to these games. we get our report tonight from foreign correspondent richard engel in dagestan .

>> reporter: the bombers who pulled off the attacks in volgograd, even the boston marathon attack all trace back to dagestan . but why is this remote republic the heart of extremism in russia? our first look at it is a drab, poor place. soviet architecture , no jobs. they used to make caviar here from the caspian sea , not anymore. kick boxing is a draw, and increasingly, mosques bring young people in bringing the chaos. the iman didn't know tsarnaev, but said the mosque is now watched by police, and the men who worship here sometimes disappear. they join terrorist groups or are snatched by police. this man's son, a suspect in the terrorist bombing in 2012 is among the missing . and where is he now? i don't know, she says, there is a rumor he is alive, but i don't know for sure. jana took is to where she said men in masks were involved. all of these mothers have sons who are missing. they accuse president putin of sending young muslim men to the gulag. it is from this anger that black widows are made. while the russian government denies it is responsible for the disappearances in dagestan , human rights groups say there is no other explanation. some of the detainees are never seen again, but others end up in jail after confessing to terrorism. and who else but the government, they say, could arrange it? human rights efforts have documented more than 50 suspicious kidnappings in dagestan last year, the security services just don't want to work properly. they say they prefer to kidnap people rather than bring them to court. the men responsible for the security in dagestan denies that. what would be the point of kidnapping someone and keeping them hidden, he asks, when hundreds are being detained legally. whoever is responsible, dozens of young men are missing caught up in a dragnet, their families say, to clean russia of their most dangerous region before the sochi olympics . richard engel , nbc news, dagestan .