TODAY   |  January 24, 2014

New Sochi Olympic terror threat revealed

A security threat is gaining traction as a newly surfaced video warns of a potential attack on the Games. The video appears to come from a known branch of al Quaeda. But local Russian security officials are assuring that the event will be kept safe. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>> discovered threat against the winter olympic games in sochi . let's get right to richard engel . richard, good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning. this threat was actually first posted online earlier this month but gaining traction now. it's from a group with a proven track record, and it's part of a growing trend where islamic militant groups are adopting sochi as their cause. and that's a problem.

>> reporter: the terrorist threat appears to come from a known branch of al qaeda with fighters from russia , the caucuses, central asia and pakistan. the tone is smug and mocking. saying the olympics have already been tarnished, that russia is trembling, and ominously that violence is coming. that's not the way russian officials see things. at the ice rink , the new 12,000-seat hockey stadium, telling us sochi is the safest city in the world.

>> i'm sure everything will be okay because you can see in that security procedures are real tough.

>> reporter: two messages, one threatening, the other confident. but is there room in between for much olympic spirit at a games where russia and islamic extremists have something to prove? this is the center of the main olympic park medals plaza on a rainy day . you can hear them opening up for the opening ceremony . the stadium radiate out from here like folks on a bicycle wheel. in one sense, it's very convenient because you can walk to the different venues, but also all brand new. there aren't bars and restaurants, you can't bring in outside liquid. russia puts so much effort into turning this into a secure bubble that in the end, it feels somewhat sterile, kind of like a convention center that's been sealed off. the security perimeter may be a necessity. radical islamist groups are making sochi their cause. but why? russia has a dirty little secret , the ongoing military operations in the caucuses, mainly in dagastan. often conduct counterterrorism missions there, sometimes very aggressively, according to human rights groups. now, russia 's insurgency at home is becoming a battle over sochi .

>> reporter: in a sense, these games are caught between russia , which wants to show how strong it is that it can organize a safe games here, which is not very far from the caucuses and the militants themselves who want to prove they can hit vladimir putin , the russian strong man.

>> all right, richard engel in sochi for us this morning.