An army of 9,000 officers, an air shield that will protect the whole Games area, with fighters ready to intervene in minutes, a brand new digital radio system so there are no ‘gaps’ in communication between the security forces, a single operations centre for all the security bodies, which will work in close contact with the intelligence services of other countries – this is the detailed plan that anti-terrorism experts have worked on for months to guarantee the security of the Turin Olympics. A plan that, among other things, got definitive approval on December 22 from the Italian Council of Ministers with the decree that guarantees its funding. The worldwide resonance of the event and the vicinity to the Italian general elections make February’s Games in Piedmont a potential target for terrorists and all those who want to use the Olympics as a showcase. For months the Italian intelligence services, working in close contact with those of other western countries and of the countries taking part in the Olympics, have been monitoring websites and alternative circuits to see what is cooking.
‘Obviously there are a number of targets for our investigative and intelligence activities,” Luigi Renella, the Italian police official who is in contact with the US authorities, told ANSA. However, Renella did not confirm reports by daily newspaper ‘USA Today’ – attributed to the police official himself – that 700 people are under surveillance. In one of his latest reports to parliament, Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu clearly stated that ”the security of the Olympics is a priority” for the government and for this reason made assurances that there would be ”articulated and efficient measures in place to offer the maximum level of guarantees.” ”Up to now there have been no definite signals of preparatory activities by terrorists,” he said, but he added that the worldwide resonance of the event ”could be of great interest to terrorist organizations.” This concept that was reiterated a few days later by Civil Secret Services Director Mario Mori, speaking to the members of Copaco. ”A very high level of vigilance will be needed,” said President Bianco at the end of the meeting. The Interior Minister has not excluded the possibility that the terrorist threat may come on the internal front as well as from the Al Qaeda international terror network. Pisanu is concerned there may be an alliance between anarchist insurrectionists and the extreme wing of the Piedmont protesters against the TAV high-speed rail-link. As well as the 9,000 security-force personnel, the security plan – which covers the offices of the organizing committee, the local authorities and other possible targets in the area, as well as the competition sites – also features the opening of a single Olympic central operations centre, connected to 21 operation rooms at each competition site, and the launch of a National Information Centre (Centro nazionale di informazione), where all the information from the intelligence services and police will be collected and processed. As for the air shield, the Defence Ministry has prepared a plan similar to the one used for the NATO-Russia summit at Pratica di Mare: fighter jets will be ready to take off in minutes, missile batteries will be set up near to the Olympic sites, armed helicopters will be in flight to deal with any eventual threats from small aircraft and a refuelling aircraft will continually be in flight. Communications between the security forces will be guaranteed by the new ‘Tetra’ system: instead of the old radios, digital devises similar to mobile telephones will be used that give a better signal with a lower chance of interceptions. Access to the Olympic sites will only be granted upon presentation of a badge (even for athletes) and after a metal-detector check, while the awards ceremony will be protected by sniffer dogs and marksmen. RED/ZRA