India and Day 26 – Part 4: Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai – 1


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Finally, on 26 November, the GPS had sounded their arrival off the coast of Mumbai, and they had called Karachi to find out what to do with the captured captain. It fell to Ajmal Kasab to act. He had just turned twenty-one and felt compelled to prove his worth. Two others held the Indian sailor down, while Ajmal slit his throat. Blooded, they jumped into a yellow dinghy that pulled them onwards towards the glistening Indian city.” – An excerpt from the prologue of The Seige: Three Days of Terror Inside the Taj by Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy.

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On the evening of Wednesday, November 26, 2008, televisions all over the world broadcast the breaking news that Mumbai,  India’s largest city with a population of 18 million was virtually under siege with twelve coordinated shooting and bombing incidents.

The 10 terrorists who took part in the attacks were young men. On November 21, 2008, they left Karachi, Pakistan in a boat and travelled for thirty-eight hours, remaining undetected by the Indian Navy. Each of them was carrying 6 to 7 magazines of 30 rounds each plus 400 rounds not loaded in magazines, 8 hand grenades, one AK-47 assault rifle, an automatic loading revolver, credit cards and a supply of dried fruit.

On November 23, the terrorists hijacked an Indian fishing trawler, the Kuber. They killed four fishermen and ordered the captain of the trawler to sail to India.

On November 26, when they were four nautical miles (7 kilometers) from Mumbai they killed the captain of the trawler and boarding three inflatable speedboats reached the Colaba jetty at 8:10 pm.

The identity of the attackers was not immediately known. Initial reports said they were young men wearing jeans and tee-shirts.

Map of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks
Map of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks

Eight attacks took place in South Mumbai: at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Oberoi/Trident Hotel, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, the Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital, the Nariman House renamed Chabad House – a Jewish community center, the Metro Cinema, in a lane behind the Times of India building, St. Xavier’s College, a domestic airport and a police station.

There was also an explosion at Mazagaon, in Mumbai’s port area, and in a taxi at Vile Parle.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai - After the terrorist attack (Source: outlookindia.com)
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai – After the terrorist attack (Source: outlookindia.com)

The terrorists opened fire and set off Grenades in several locations. In the hotels they sought out foreign nationals, particularly British and American citizens.  Hostages were taken during the attacks.

Around 450 people were staying in the Taj Mahal Hotel at that time. It was hosting a parliamentary conference and a number of visiting dignitaries were ensnared in the violence. The terrorists set fire and destroyed the hotel’s roof. At least 31 people were killed by the terrorists at Taj.

By the early morning of November 28, the Mumbai Police and security forces secured all sites except the Taj hotel.

The panic lasted until Saturday, November 29, 2008.

Terror attack at Taj Hotel, Mumbai on  November 26, 2008. (Source: ramanan50.wordpress.com)
Terror attack at Taj Hotel, Mumbai on November 26, 2008. (Source: ramanan50.wordpress.com)

On November 29, India’s National Security Guards (NSG) conducted the Operation Black Tornado to flush out the assailants. The commandos killed all the terrorists barricaded in the hotel and the three-day long siege.

The only attacker captured alive, 21-year-old Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, upon interrogation confessed that the attackers were members of Lashkar-e-Taiba. He said that 24 terrorists received training in marine warfare at a remote camp in mountainous Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir in Pakistan and he was one of them.

Lashkar-e-Taiba is one of the largest and most active terrorist organizations in South Asia, operating primarily from Pakistan. This militant network is closely linked to al-Qaeda, and is considered a terrorist organization by India, Pakistan, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations among others.

Kasab also revealed that the attacks were conducted with the support of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the mastermind behind the carnage who directed the attacks from Pakistan via mobile phones and VoIP.

Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus during the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus during the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Pictures of Ajmal Kasab, the boyish-looking gunman wearing a black T-shirt and toting an AK-47 assault rifle as he strode through Mumbai’s railway station were published around the world.

India was traumatized by the three-day terror attacks, which drew widespread global condemnation. The terrorists killed 167 people and wounded at least 308 people. The casualties were mostly Indian citizens, although westerners carrying foreign passports were singled out.

The Government of India said the terrorists came from Pakistan and their controllers were in Pakistan.

Pakistan initially denied that its nationals were responsible for the attacks and it blamed plotters in Bangladesh and criminal elements in India, for the attacks. But India refuted this claim.

Then Pakistan said they needed information from India on other bombings first.

The officials in India supplied evidence to Pakistan and other governments, in the form of interrogations, call records of conversations during the attacks, and weapons used in the Mumbai terror attacks. The Indian government officials alleged that the attacks were so sophisticated that they must have received official support from Pakistani ‘agencies’, an accusation denied by Pakistan.

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 Previous ~ India and Day 26 – Part 3: The Devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami

Next  India and Day 26 – Part 4: Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai – 2 

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