WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine said Sunday that he would not personally want his family to attend the Olympics in Russia as concerns escalated that terrorists could target the Winter Games.

Asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” program whether he believed the Sochi games would be safe enough for Maine athletes or his family, King said that “it would be a stretch, I think, to say that I am going to send my family there.”

“I’m going to answer that question honestly: I would not go,” King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told host Candy Crowley. “And I don’t think I would send my family. I don’t know how you put a percentage on it. But it’s such a rich target in an area of the world (where) … they’ve almost broadcast that they are going to try to do something there.”

King was not the only lawmaker to express concerns Sunday about the security situation in Sochi.

“We don’t seem to be getting all of the information we need to protect our athletes in the games,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “I think this needs to change, and it should change soon.”

Suicide bombings last month in the southern Russian city of Volgograd, about 400 miles from where the Sochi Games will be held, have contributed to the safety anxiety. On Sunday, an Islamic militant group in Russia’s North Caucasus claimed responsibility for the twin bombings and posted a video threatening to strike the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.


In the video, two Russian-speaking men sitting in front of black banners with Arabic verses warn President Vladimir Putin that if the games are held, “we will give you a present for the innocent Muslim blood being spilled all around the world.”

They add that “for the tourists who come there will be a present, too.”

Putin has promised that his country will do all it can to ensure a safe Olympics without imposing security measures that are too intrusive.

The State Department has advised Americans who plan to attend the Olympics, which run Feb. 7-23, that they should stay vigilant about security because of potential terrorist threats, crime and uncertain medical care.

Rogers, R-Mich., contended that the Russians “aren’t giving us the full story about what are the threat streams, who do we need to worry about, are those groups, the terrorist groups who have had some success, are they still plotting? There’s a missing gap, and you never want that when you go into something I think as important as the Olympic Games and the security of the athletes, and the participants and those who come to watch.”

King agreed with Rogers and said that technology – such as non-metallic bombs he said were reportedly under development by “a guy in the Middle East” – are making it harder to combat terrorism.


“But this is a real challenge for the Russians,” King said. “I agree with Mike Rogers. If I were (the Russians), I would be advising and working with every intelligence agency in the world as thoroughly as possible to try to prevent something from happening.”

An insurgency seeking to create an independent Islamic state in the Caucasus has swept the region after two separatist wars in Chechnya.

The province of Dagestan, located between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea, about 300 miles east of Sochi, has become the center of the rebellion, with daily shootings and bombings of police and other officials.

Sochi-bound athletes – including several from Maine – have openly discussed their concerns about security in Sochi as well.

Late last year, Maine Olympic hopeful Seth Wescott said he might consider skipping the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games.

“When you have a radical group saying they will do everything in their power to disrupt the games … what is the first opportunity with the most impact? To me, that’s the opening ceremonies,” Wescott, a two-time gold medalist in snowboardcross from Carabassett Valley, told the Portland Press Herald. “I am very concerned.”


King mentioned Wescott in his interview with Crowley but said American athletes will have protection.

“They are going to certainly have a very high level of security, but it’s a concern,” King said.

The Associated Press and Kevin Miller, Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald, contributed to this report.


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