New terror video doesn't detour Houstonians' Olympic plans

By Jace Larson - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - A local travel agency owner, who has booked about 20 people on trips to the Olympics in Sochi, Russia says no one has called to cancel even though a video posted by an Islamic militant group made a new threat to strike the Winter Olympics.

"I think there has been some discussion about it but no one has canceled," said Travel Leaders' Future Travel owner Michelle Weller. "Nobody feels it is enough to cancel."

Weller said bookings are down compared with the Summer Olympics in London, but traveling to Russia is more difficult. Her clients who did book the trip aren't average travelers.

"Going to someplace like Sochi for the Olympics is something different. My clients going are adventurous travelers, people who, for example, have been on a safari in Africa," Weller said.

She has been in Olympic violence herself and still says she wouldn't cancel a trip if she had one booked to Sochi.

"I think every Olympic Games has been a target. I went to the 1972 Munich games and there were gunshots at the airport when I was there. I remember that, but it doesn't stop me," Weller said. "It's just like being in Houston. There's probably someplace in Houston you don't want to go, but if you are careful, you'll be just fine."

Jose Coira, of Houston, did choose to cancel a planned trip. He is not a customer of Weller's agency. The terrorist attacks in Volgograd, Russia where a bomb went off in a train station caused him to call off this plans.

Coira said his hotel refunded his money but he still is out the cost of event tickets and his plane tickets for himself and a friend.

"I'm not going to risk my life if I'm going to die there.  It's not worth the $4,000 that I spent.  It's not worth it.  It's really the attacks that made me cancel my trip," he told Local 2 earlier this month.


Russia's counter-terrorism agency says it is studying the video posted by an Islamic militant group asserting responsibility for suicide bombings last month that killed 34 people in Volgograd and threatening an attack on the games which begin in 17 days.

The video was posted online Sunday by a militant group in Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in Russia's North Caucasus. Russia is in a low-level war with some people in the area.

Two Russian-speaking men featured in the video are identified as members of Ansar al-Sunna, the name of a militant group operating in Iraq. It was unclear whether they had received funding or training from the group or only adopted its name.
There was no confirmation the men were the Volgograd suicide bombers as the video claims.


Travel packages to the games are still available. Flights in economy class run about $1,200 depending on dates of travel.

Six night, seven day hotel packages at three-star hotels start at about $3,700. The hotel packages include breakfast, cocktails and some parties. They do not include tickets to the Olympic events.

A six-night stay in a four star hotel starts at $4,345, Weller said.

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