Urgent Search for 'Black Widow' Suicide Bomber, May Be Already in Sochi
U.S. Olympic Committee says safety of Team USA "top priority."
Jan. 20, 2014 — -- Police in Sochi have launched an urgent search for a possible female suicide bomber who may have already made it past the ring of security set up for the Olympic Games.
Hotel employees in Sochi told ABC News that posters with pictures and descriptions of a 22-year-old woman from nearby Dagestan were distributed over the weekend by authorities and a similar flyer was also seen posted at Sochi's airport.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Olympic Committee reacted to the revelation by saying that the safety of Team USA is their "top priority."
"As is always the case, we are working with the U.S. Department of State, the local organizers and the relevant law enforcement agencies in an effort to ensure that our delegation and other Americans traveling to Sochi are safe," spokesperson Patrick Sandusky said.
The woman featured on the wanted posters is identified as Ruzanna Ibragimova, using the nickname Salima, the widow of a militant reportedly killed in a shoot-out with police last year in Dagestan.
She is described as being affiliated with the Caucasus Emirate, the terror group led by Doku Umarov that has threatened attacks against the Winter Games in Sochi.
Ibragimova is described as having a 10 centimeter scar across the left cheek, a pronounced limp, and a stiff left arm that doesn't bend at the elbow.
A police wanted poster published by an online Sochi news website said she had left Dagestan earlier this month and arrived in Sochi about ten days ago.
Security experts said it was troubling that she may have been able to get to Sochi despite the so-called "ring of steel" of security forces that President Vladimir Putin has said will make the Olympics safe from terrorists.
"The fact that one individual either was able to stay in the area before the ring of steel went up or get through it really raises questions about the strength of the Russia security apparatus," said Christopher Swift, a Georgetown University professor who has studied militant groups in the North Caucasus.
"The specific worry is that she's a woman and because of that it's easier for women to infiltrate indoor or outdoor venues, that she could be a bomb carrier."
Swift said it is rare for the group's suicide bombers to operate alone.
"Usually, in the past, when we've seen female suicide bombings, there's either been two women who are both bombers," said Swift.
The FSB, Russia's domestic intelligence service preceded by the KGB, declined to comment for this report.