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  • Olympics Impact from Bin Laden Death?


    The Salt Lake City Olympics were the first Games held after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Getty Images)
    (ATR) Security experts will have to recalculate the risks of terror attacks to the Games following the death of Osama bin Laden.

    The leader of the terrorist group al-Qaeda was killed in a U.S. operation in Pakistan, the body of the Saudi Arabian native said to be in U.S. custody. President Barack Obama announced the demise of bin Laden in a speech from the White House late Sunday night.

    Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, bin Laden was considered a threat to the Olympics—most notably the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, just five months after the attack on the World Trade Center.

    At the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, the U.S. State Department issued a warning for U.S. travelers to the Olympics of a specific terrorist attack on the Games from al Qaeda-affiliated groups. No security concerns materialized.

    In 2007, an official with the London police said "With terrorism, single issue terrorist groups have become the No. 1 threat," referencing the 2012 Games.

    $35 million was spent by U.S. agencies to provide security for the Athens Olympics. Some 204 government entities were involved, one way or another with Olympic security, according to reports published in 2005. The report also said the
    President Obama announcing the death of Osama bin Laden late Sunday May 1, 2011. (Getty Images)
    2006 Olympics in Turin were a potential threat from al Qaeda.

    Compared to Athens, the report says "The threat framework surrounding the 2006 Winter Olympics remains largely the same. Italy has partnered with the United States in the war on terror, including the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and al Qaeda has named Italy as a target."

    Regarding the Beijing Olympics the report says U.S. officials "have received tentative inquiries from Chinese officials regarding Olympics security issues."

    "However, the United States has not assessed China’s security plans for the 2008 Olympics, and officials at key agencies stated they are uncertain about the extent of assistance China may request or permit from outside sources," says the report.

    An NBC analyst said bin Laden’s death does not mean “the end of terrorism”, but he called it a “big boost” to U.S. military, a “game changer”.

    The London Olympics, just over a year away, will be the first Olympics which may be affected by the loss of the terrorist leader. The potential threat of terrorist attack against the 2012 Games was made real on July 7, 2005 when a series of bombings on London trains and buses stunned the city, just hours after the IOC voted to bring the Olympics to the British capital.

    While Bin Laden’s death might lower the threat of trouble for London 2012, the U.S. State Department warns of "enhanced potential for anti-American violence" following bin Laden's death.

    With reporting from Ed Hula III.

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