Why Radical Islamist Extremism Threatens the Winter Olympics

The back-to-back suicide bombings in Volgograd just before the New Year might have shocked some, but they really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with the tensions in the North Caucasus region of Russia. This excellent editorial from Ilan Berman from the American Foreign Policy Council, which ran in Wednesday’s USA Today, details the recent history with the Islamist insurgency in Russia – particularly the numerous acts of terrorism in the region.

The good news, if there’s any good news to be gleaned from the editorial, is that the Russian government is taking the threat of Radical Islamist Extremism seriously – more seriously than the Obama Administration has been taking it judging from its dealings in the Middle East over the past five years. The editorial notes that terrorist attacks are on the decline from an all-time high of nearly 800 in 2009 alone.

However, with the world ready to look in on this troubled region next month when Sochi hosts the Winter Olympics, the temptation for terrorists to target this high-profile event will be great. It will be incumbent on the Russian government to be vigilant and protect not only the games’ participants and spectators, but to keep the extremists from the global platform that an attack on the Olympics would given them.

The suicide bombings in Volgograd – and what they might be foreshadowing – should remind Americans that terrorism is merely a tactic. The idea of fighting terrorism, which the Obama Administration has been touting, obscures the people and the philosophy that drives Radical Islamist Extremist terrorism.

Radical Islamist Extremists are particularly dangerous because their aims are global and absolute, and their dedication to these aims is absolute as well. They’re willing to kill and die for a world vision in which their brand of Islam is the world’s only religion, where laws based on their brand of Islam are mercilessly enforced, and where freedoms we have come to treasure as Americans will be made obsolete. While I hope that the Russian government will be able to snuff out any terrorist threats before they emerge, the Volgograd bombings should be enough to place everyone involved with securing the safety of the games on high alert.

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