TODAY | December 30, 2013
>> to talk about breaking news coming out of russia . it's our top story this morning. the second deadly suicide bombing in the city of volgograd about 200 miles from sochi where the olympics are six weeks away. jim is in mioscow with the latest on this. what can you tell us?
>> reporter: good morning. well, vladimir putin has reacted to the bombings by beefing up special forces and police throughout the country but he has done that so far with very little effect. this morning, this was a bus packed with people going to work on the market until a second bomb in as many days here turned it into a mass of twisted metal with body and body parts across the roads.
>> i saw heaps of glass. the window frames were shaking. i started taking the injured to passing cars which brought them to the hospital. a bombing in a train station killed at least 17. no one claimed responsibility for the bombings but they believe both were by suicide bombers linked to islamist militants. the wave of attacks has raised questions about the safety of the winter olympics only 38 days away in sochi , just some 400 miles from volgograd. investigators believe this man is behind the attacks. he has appealed to his men to kill civilians and disrupt the olympic games . russian president putin will deploy 40,000 special forces police and agents in a 1500 square mile security zone around sochi during the games. olympic officials say they're confident those games will be safe. but some russia analysts are worried.
>> the fear is there will be one dramatic attack which will, in exact, disrupt the whole country and will bring into doubt the whole security system .
>> reporter: and from the mill militants point of view, the latest attacks have been a success. many in a city of 1 million are saying they're just too afraid to go outside and go about their daily lives. matt, back to you.
>> jim, thank you very much. michael is an nbc news counter terrorism analyst and the former head of the national counter terrorism center. he's with us by moan phone. we have a bombing today on a trolly or bus and bombing yesterday in a train station . any reason to believe they're not linked?
>> caller: good morning, no, there's no doubt. the timing of the attacks, the mass transit and techniques, it's virtually certain at this point.
>> isn't this a troubling sign? in the build up or lead up to the olympic games in sochi , obviously russian authorities are trying to crack or detour any major plots but it's these plots they'll have a hard time preventing.
>> caller: it is. we know how big a logistics challenge these olympics are. we see the events but the security around sochi is tremendous and the russians made that into a hard target . what they haven't been able to do is harden the rest of the targets throughout the country. that's why the strikes 400 miles away from sochi at a key transportation hub , that is really hitting the underbelly of russia in a way that's going to zap some confidence before the games.
>> and also perhaps, and you hate to say it this way, common sense on the part of the terrorist because if you're planning a large scale attack a lot of people have to be in the loop and communications, those plans are often easier to detect than something like this.
>> caller: that's right. keeping it small as we saw in boston is the hardest sort of attack for sbintelligence organizations to disrupt. and these are ones that the u.s. community and other nations are the least able to help russia . this is more of a domestic problem and this is not where our intelligence resources have been pointed.
>>> michael, thank you very much. i appreciate it.
>> caller: thanks matt.