Sochi Winter Olympics Series #1: “The Black Widows” And Why We Can’t Let Them Win

20140205-094935.jpg Russian Police On A Bus In Sochi. Credit For Photo Goes To Time, Inc.

For the past few weeks, Russian security forces have been searching for the so-called “Black Widows” -female suicide bombers tasked to avenge their family members’ deaths. The suspects are thought to be connected to extremists in the Caucasus region of Russia, which is near/including the city of Sochi, the location for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

These women are told incorrect information that fills them with hatred and vengeance to the point that the extremist leaders groom them to be suicide bombers. The Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov has used this tactic in the past, and he released a video last June telling extremists to do all they can to ruin the Games. This man is responsible for suicide bombings in the past, including ones in Moscow in 2010 and 2011 that claimed the lives of more than 70 people.

The terrorist cells dotted across the region are well spread out, making it hard to track them. Earlier this year, bombings in Volvograd, 400 miles from Sochi, that killed 34 people, were claimed by insurgents.

Reportedly, one of the “Black Widows” infiltrated the security area around the city of Sochi, and has been seen multiple times in the central part of the city.

20140205-095357.jpg A U.S. Skier Practices Days Before The Opening Ceremony. Credit For Photo To LA Times.

We cannot let these terrorists win. We must not be foolish in our pursuit of them however, because we do not want to make them martyrs. After all, these “Black Widows” are told that their family members that were killed were heroes, and that they must be too. Russia and the international community must help this area, rather than kill them all. The majority of the people in the region say that they are concerned about the extremist groups, so this is obviously a group of radicals, not an entire area.

Russia must allow for fairer religious freedom in their nation, better education quality in the area, and must help these people, especially the women, not become radicalized. Russia must not divide the nation, as President Vladimir Putin often does, but join to care for their fellow people and not want to kill them. The women in the region are treated very poorly, and Russia needs to work to end their abuse, radicalization, and their restrictions. The terrorists that have committed attacks must be brought to justice, but Russia must end the cycle of new, more extreme, terrorists that come with every new generation.

Even if no attacks occur at the Olympics, I hope this situation continues to be highlighted in international news. We must help the children and women who are filled with lies and hatred not to be new terrorists by improving actual education in the region and to improve the treatment of these people. We cannot stop the terrorists now, but we can help the women and children so that they do not continue the awful path that is leading to lives being taken and the unrest of a huge area in a country that has international power.

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