TODAY   |  January 21, 2014

Analyst: People don’t see suspected terrorists coming

Terrorism analyst for NBC News Evan Kohlmann says the stakes are high in the search for the suspected “Black Widow” Russian terrorists, who may have slipped through security to reach the country, because of their ability to change their appearances.

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>> evan coleman is a terrorism analyst for nbc news. evan, good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> if this so-called ring of steel has been breached. and when you think they're handing out these flyers, what does it tell us about the ability to prevent an attack during the game?

>> it really is more like a line, i think the problem here is we're talking about individuals who manage to infiltrate through this ring of steel . not a month ago, not two months ago, but less than two weeks ago, after the ring of steel .

>> the reports are they left on the 11th or 12th of january.

>> only a few days ago.

>> and not to mention the fact, this is also after the volgograd bombings, after the russians knew definitively these folks would be targeting the events.

>> what makes it difficult to track them down, they have the ability to change their appearance. on the one side, we see this woman wearing the traditional headwear for a muslim woman. on the other side, hair down, wearing make-up, they can blend in.

>> that's what's been so difficult about these black widows . they've managed to get on aircraft in russia , trolleys, buses, trains. they've managed to cause a lot of damage and people don't see them coming.

>> a lot of analysts think it's more likely because there's such intense security around sochi for the games, that these groups who want to make their point might try to make it in another city where terrorists will not have to go through screenings.

>> look, these folks have made it clear, they're willing to launch attacks in st. petersburg, but that doesn't mean they won't target the olympics. and if you look at the words from the suicide bombers from volgograd, they were very clear for the torch coming to the olympi olympics, we have a present for you, you're going to enjoy it.

>> a couple reports, we want your quick response on, described as russia 's version of bin laden , reports surfacing in the last couple of days he may have been killed by russian authorities. if he's so important in terms of a terrorist, wouldn't the russians have commented on that?

>> we don't know for sure he's dead. there was report from al qaeda online couriers he was dead. there were reports from some officials in the caucuses. no confirmation from the caucuses. until they say something, i think we need to be clear on jumping the gun on that.

>> is there likely to be cooperation between u.s. intelligence and russian intelligence on these matters? or have issues like edward snowden in syria strained that over the years?

>> i think there'll be cooperation, but no doubt, as well, that things like edward snowden, things like the boston massacre , they've had an undeniable impact in terms of russian/u.s. relations, and unfortunately, there isn't a great atmosphere between russia and the united states . even where it seems we have a lot of interests in common.

>> thank you very much.