After a 60 hour rampage by Islamic terrorists through India’s financial district in Mumbai, it seems to finally be over. Death toll is at 195 and could go higher. Now another battle begins…finding the people who were responsible. And I pray that Inda does not tread lightly after their 9-11 equivalent. This was not just some typical terror attack. This was well coordinated, well planned, well funded and obviously well executed.
Indian intelligence officials said the gunmen who launched the coordinated attacks appeared well trained and well prepared. The assailants seemed familiar with the layouts of the two hotels and the Jewish center, giving them a tactical advantage over the police and Indian army troops sent in to dislodge them.
“This is a big-scale operation, but it is not beyond the capability of Lashkar-i-Taiba,” said the intelligence officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the nature of his work. “The person we have caught is a foot soldier; he is from Pakistan’s Punjab,” the officer said, referring to a region divided by the India-Pakistan border.
“He has clearly said he is with Lashkar and that he was trained,” the officer said. “They came via a ship. They hijacked a boat called Kuber, shot the man in charge on the boat. They were carrying a CD with the photographs of all the targets of the site, details. It is clear that they were determined to target India’s iconic locations and deter foreign investment.”
And this from the NY Times:
Armed Teams Sowed Chaos With Precision
Ten men, all apparently in their early 20s, jumped out. They stripped off orange windbreakers to reveal T-shirts and blue jeans. Then they began hoisting large, heavy backpacks out of the boat and onto their shoulders, each taking care to claim the pack assigned to him.
Mr. Dhanur flipped his boat light toward the men, and Kashinath Patil, a 72-year-old harbor official on duty nearby, asked the men what they were doing.
“I said: ‘Where are you going? What’s in your bags?’ “ Mr. Patil recalled. “They said: ‘We don’t want any attention. Don’t bother us.’ “
Thus began a crucial phase of one of the deadliest terrorist assaults in Indian history, one that seemed from the start to be coordinated meticulously to cause maximum fear and chaos.
Indian officials had said little publicly about the attackers until Saturday, when the Mumbai police commissioner, Hasan Gafoor, said a total of 10 militants had been responsible for the mayhem. But it remained unclear whether he was referring to 10 attackers arriving by sea to join other accomplices. Unconfirmed local news reports suggested some militants had embedded themselves in Mumbai days before the attacks. Investigations were ongoing Saturday night. In any event, the synchronized assaults suggested a high level of training and preparation.
Stories of heroism are already coming out:
Inside the blacked-out Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, hallways were littered with bloodied bodies.
Terrorists were still holding 200 people 33 hours after the assault began.
Knowing next to nothing about what they might encounter in the dark recesses of the hotel, Indian Army commandos decided to go back in — and were met by terrorists firing mercilessly, throwing grenades and continuously switching positions.
The sound of gunfire and explosions reverberated throughout the hotel’s atrium, making it impossible to pinpoint the origin of the shots.
Through it all, the commandos walked down pitch-black halls, trying to navigate the damaged hotel without knowing the layout.
A commando spokesman, his face and hair swathed in a black scarf and wearing dark glasses to hide his identity, revealed these details of the mission inside the Taj at a news conference Friday.
They entered the hotel for the first time essentially blind to what was ahead. They had no idea what kind of people they would encounter, what kind of weapons might be pointed at them, and whether they might be blown up by explosives.
“Then we heard gunshots on the second floor and we rushed toward the fired shots,” he said. “While taking cover we found that there were 30 to 50 bodies lying dead. At that point we also came under fire. The moment they saw us, they hurled grenades.”
When the shots stopped, the commandos moved toward the source of the gunfire.
“At that time, they vanished … they had gone elsewhere,” the commando said.
Here’s a Reuters clip of the aftermath in Mumbai: