(JNS.org) The Chabad-Lubavitch center in Sochi, Russia is taking security precautions as it welcomes an influx of Jewish athletes and visitors to its 3,000-member local Jewish community for the 2014 Winter Olympics, which began Thursday.
New safety concerns arose Thursday after U.S. intelligence indicated that terrorists could use toothpaste tubes to hide explosives on airplanes flying to Russia.
"I think you're going to see a tightening of the screening procedures on these types of items that could contain explosive devices, that could either be used to blow up an airplane going to Russia or be smuggled into the Sochi are for the Olympics," U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said, ABC News reported.
Rabbi Ari Edelkopf, the Chabad emissary to Sochi, recently told JNS.org that the Sochi Jewish community is “in touch with local officials and security experts” regarding safety precautions. In December, two suicide attacks killed 34 people in Volgograd, about 700 kilometers north of Sochi. An Islamist group from the Caucausus claimed responsibility for the attacks. Up to 70,000 personnel will be patrolling the games, according to some estimates.
Mark B. Levin, executive director of the National Conference Supporting Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia (NCSJ), told JNS.org that NCSJ isn’t certain about any specific threats to Jews attending the games, but that the group has been contacted by some concerned individuals and is directing those people to the U.S. State Department.
"As any American who might be going over, we hope necessary [safety] precautions would be taken," Levin said.