November 2008 Mumbai attacks

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Mumbai Terrorist Attacks

Locations of the attacks
Location Mumbai, India
Date 26 November 2008 – 29 November 2008 (IST, UTC +5:30)
Attack type Bombings, shootings, hostage crisis[1]
Weapon(s) RDX, AK-47, Type 56 and grenades[2]
Deaths 173 (164 civilians and security personnel and 9 terrorists)[3]
Injured 308[3]
Suspected perpetrator(s) Controversial; suspects include the previously unknown Deccan Mujahideen,[4], Lashkar-e-Taiba,[5] Dawood Ibrahim,[5] Jaish-e-Mohammad and Al Qaeda

The November 2008 Mumbai attacks were a series of ten coordinated terrorist attacks across Mumbai, India's financial capital and its largest city. The attacks, carried out by armed men using automatic weapons and grenades,[6] began on 26 November 2008 and ended on 29 November 2008.[7] At least 173 people[3][8] were killed and at least 308 were injured in the attacks.[3]

Eight of the attacks occurred in South Mumbai, at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus,[6] the Oberoi Trident,[6] the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower,[6] Leopold Cafe,[6] Cama Hospital,[6] the Orthodox Jewish-owned Nariman House,[9] the Metro Cinema,[10] and a lane behind the Times of India building behind St. Xavier's College.[6] There was also an explosion at the Mazagaon docks in Mumbai's port area, and a taxi blast at Vile Parle.[11][12]

By the early morning of 28 November, all sites except for the Taj Mahal Palace had been secured by Mumbai Police and security forces. An action by India's National Security Guards on 29 November resulted in the conclusion of the Taj Mahal Palace encounter, ending all fighting in the attacks.[13]

Ajmal Amir,[14] the only terrorist who was captured alive, disclosed that the attackers were members of Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Pakistan-based militant organization, considered a terrorist organization by India, the United States, and the United Kingdom, among others.[15] The Indian Government said that the attackers came from Pakistan, and their controllers were in Pakistan. [16] The attacks drew widespread condemnation across the world.[17]

Contents

[edit] Background

Main article: Terrorism in Mumbai

Mumbai has suffered several terror attacks starting 12th March 1993 when there were serial blasts across the city. It has also seen many bombings in last decade. On 6 December 2002, a bomb placed under a seat of an empty BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport) bus exploded near Ghatkopar station in Mumbai, killing two people and injuring around 28.[18] The bombing occurred on the tenth anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya. On 27 January 2003, a bomb placed on a bicycle exploded near the Vile Parle station in Mumbai. The bomb killed one person and injured 25. The blast occurred a day ahead of the visit of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister of India to the city.[19] On 13 March 2003, a bomb exploded in a train compartment, as the train was entering the Mulund station in Mumbai. 10 people were killed and 70 were injured. The blast occurred a day after the tenth anniversary of the 1993 Bombay bombings.[20] On 28 July 2003, a bomb placed under a seat of a BEST bus exploded in Ghatkopar. The bomb killed 4 people and injured 32.[21] On 25 August 2003, two blasts occurred in South Mumbai - one near the Gateway of India and the other at Zaveri Bazaar in Kalbadevi. At least 44 people were killed and 150 injured. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but it had been hinted that the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba was behind the attacks.[22]

[edit] Attribution

Both American and Indian authorities have little doubt that the Mumbai attacks were directed by militants inside Pakistan.[23] More specifically, they increasingly attribute the attacks to the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant organization, considered a terrorist organization by India, the United States, the United Kingdom, among others.[15][24] They also say that former officers from Pakistan’s Army and its Inter-Services Intelligence agency helped train the Mumbai attackers.[23] Intelligence agencies have also pointed out the possibility of involvement of the Mumbai underworld, with agencies in India and Russia specifically naming Dawood Ibrahim, an organized crime syndicate believed to be hiding in Pakistan.[25][26] Police are looking into possible Indian collaborators, also trained in Pakistan.[27]

[edit] Attackers

Ten terrorists took part in the attacks, nine of whom were subsequently shot dead by security forces.[28][29] They looked young, in their early twenties, and wore T-shirts, black shirts, and jeans. Some witnesses have even said that they smiled and looked happy as they shot their victims.[30] On 9th December, the ten attackers and their home towns in Pakistan were identified by Mumbai police:[31] Ajmal Amir from Faridkot, Abu Ismail Dera Ismail Khan from Dera Ismail Khan, Hafiz Arshad and Babr Imran from Multan, Javed from Okara, Shoaib from Narowal, Nazih and Nasr from Faisalabad, Abdul Rahman from Arifwalla, and Fahad Ullah from Dipalpur Taluka. Dera Ismail Khan is in the North-West Frontier Province, the rest of the towns are in Pakistani Punjab.

Azam Amir Kasav and Abu Ismail Dera Ismail Khan, 25, attacked the railway terminus, a police vehicle in Cama Hospital, the Metro cinema, Vidhan Bhavan, and Girgaum Chowpatty. Four terrorists were in the Taj Hotel, two in the Oberoi Hotel, and two in Nariman House. Their names are: Soheb/Shoaib, 20; Chota Abdul Rahman, 21; Umar/Omar, 22; Abu Ali, 23; Fahad, or Fahadullah (24), who had one hand crippled; Bada/Bara Abdul Rahman, 25; Abu Akasha, 26; and Umair, 28.[32][33]

Initially, some reports claimed that there were Britons among the terrorists.[34][35] However, Indian police have stated that there was no evidence to confirm this. The terrorists had planned the attack several months ahead of time, setting up "control rooms" in the two luxury hotels that were targeted.[35] They knew some areas well enough to "vanish" and reappear after security forces had left. A terrorist killed at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel had on him a Mauritian identity card along with seven different credit cards[36]

[edit] Confession of a captured terrorist

Main article: Ajmal Amir

Ajmal Amir is the only gunman captured alive by police and is currently in Indian custody.[37] Much of the information about the attackers' preparation, travel, and movements comes from his confessions to the Mumbai police.[38][39]

[edit] US investigators confirm Ajmal is a Pakistani national

American investigators who questioned Ajmal Amir Iman, the lone terrorist captured during the Mumbai attack, are convinced he is a Pakistani national and that the terrorist strike was planned and executed by the Lashkar-e-Toiba, diplomatic sources said today.

Investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were given access to Ajmal for nine hours and after questioning him, they came to the conclusion that he was a Pakistani national as contended by Indian authorities, the sources told media.

The sources, familiar with the probe being conducted by the FBI team dispatched to Mumbai, said American investigators were also convinced that the Mumbai attacks were intricately planned and directed by the LeT leaders based in Pakistan.

"The investigators believe the attacks were planned, coordinated and directed from Pakistan by LeT leaders," a source said.

These findings fit in with comments by top American leaders like Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Admiral Mike Mullen, the senior-most US military official, who have asked Pakistan to take quick action against "non-state actors" based on Pakistani soil who were linked to the Mumbai attacks.

Though Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has ruled out allowing the British police to quiz the suspects Pakistan had detained in connection with the Mumbai attacks, the diplomatic sources said it would be hard pressed to take such a stance if the FBI made a similar request as India had already given American investigators access to Ajmal.


[edit] Nawaz Sharif acknowledges Kasab belongs to Pakistan

Challenging President Asif Ali Zardari's assertion that there was no proof that the arrested Mumbai attacker hailed from Pakistan's Punjab province, former premier Nawaz Sharif has said that the suspect's village was cordoned off and his parents were not allowed to meet anyone.

"I have checked myself. His (Ajmal Amir Iman alias Ajmal Kasab) house and village has been cordoned off by the security agencies. His parents are not allowed to meet anybody. I don't undertand why it has been done," Shraif, who hails from Punjab, said in an interview to Geo News channel.

"The people and media should be allowed to meet Iman's parents so that the truth could come out in the open," he said, adding that "We need some kind of introspection."

Zardari, who earlier acknowledged that the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage could be 'non-state' actors from Pakistan, has now said there is still no "real evidence" that the terrorists who attacked Mumbai came from Pakistan.

"Have you seen any evidence to that effect. I have definitely not seen any real evidence to that effect," Zardari told BBC in an interview earlier this week.

Pakistani security agencies and local officials in Faridkot have launched a cover-up since India made it public that Kasab belonged to the village in Punjab province and his father acknowledged to a Pakistani newspaper that the gunman captured in India was his son.

Sharif also slammed President Zardari's rule, saying the functioning of the current Pakistan People's Party-led government is making Pakistan look like a "failed state".

Pakistan presents the picture of a failed and ungovernable state due to the absence of the government's writ and the country urgently needs a new roadmap to pull it out of the problems it is currently facing, he said

[edit] Attacks

[edit] Entry into India

Police looking for terrorists outside Colaba.

The attackers traveled by sea from Karachi, Pakistan, across the Arabian Sea to Mumbai. They entered via speed boats that were on board trawlers. The trawlers left Pakistan and stopped at Porbandar, India, before landing in Mumbai.[31]

The first events were detailed around 20:00 IST on 26 November, when 10 Urdu-speaking men in inflatable speedboats came ashore at two locations in Colaba. They reportedly told local Marathi-speaking fishermen to mind their business before they split up and headed two different ways; the fishermen's subsequent report to police received little response.[40]

[edit] Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus was attacked by two terrorists, one of whom, Ajmal Kasab was later caught alive by the police. The attacks began here around 21:20, when two terrorists armed with AK-47 rifles entered the passenger hall, opened fire and threw grenades, killing at least ten people.[2]

[edit] Taj Mahal Hotel and Oberoi Trident

Interior of Oberoi Trident hotel where forty hostages were held

The Taj Hotel and the Oberoi Trident were the two hotels attacked, among the four locations targeted.

Facade of the Taj Mahal hotel where hostages were held

Two terrorists held fifteen hostages, including seven foreigners, in the Taj Mahal hotel.[41] CNN reported at 23:00 that the hostage situation at the Taj had been resolved and quoted the police chief of Maharashtra state as saying that all hostages were freed;[42] however, it was later learned that there were still hostages in the hotel.[43] Forty people were being held as hostages in the Oberoi Trident hotel.[44] Six blasts were reported to have taken place at the Taj hotel and one at the Oberoi Trident.[45][46] The Taj Mahal Hotel was reported to be completely under government control at 04:22[42] and Indian commandos killed two gunmen inside Oberoi hotel and took control of the building.[47][48]

Both hotels were on fire and were surrounded by Rapid Action Force and Army personnel.[49] About 400 Army commandos and 300 National Security Guards (NSG) commandos and 36~100 MARCOS commandos were sent to the spot.[2] Reports emerged of terrorists receiving live feeds broadcast by television stations; feeds to the hotels were subsequently blocked.[50] All terrorists were out of the Taj hotel, and police and firefighters were working to rescue the estimated 50 people trapped inside. Low-intensity blasts were reported in Vile Parle and a grenade attack in Santa Cruz. Two blasts were reported in the Nepean Sea Road area of south Mumbai. Local Mumbai Suburban Railway trains on the Western Railway were running, whereas those of the Central Railway were suspended. More blasts were reported at the Oberoi as the siege continued.[44] Meanwhile, police seized a boat filled with arms and explosives anchored at Mazgaon dock off Mumbai harbour.[51]

Marine drive on a weekend night. Iconic buildings like Air India building, Oberoi Hotels, NCPA Building at Nariman Point can be seen in background.

A number of European Parliament Committee on International Trade delegates were staying in the Taj Mahal hotel when it was attacked,[52] but none of them were injured. British Conservative MEP Sajjad Karim (who was in the lobby when gunmen initially opened fire there) and German Social Democrat MEP Erika Mann were hiding in different parts of the building.[53] Also reported present was Spanish MEP Ignasi Guardans, who was barricaded in a hotel room.[54] Another British Conservative MEP, Syed Kamall, reports that he along with several other MEPs left the hotel and went to a nearby restaurant shortly before the attack.[53] Kamall also reported that Polish MEP Jan Masiel was thought to have been sleeping in his hotel room when the attacks occurred. He did not leave his room for a long time, but he finally managed to safely leave the hotel.[55] Kamall and Guardans report that a Hungarian MEP's assistant was shot.[53][56]

Also caught up in the shooting were the President of Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre, while checking in at the Oberoi Trident,[56] and Indian MP N. N. Krishnadas of Kerala and Sir Gulam Noon while having dinner at a restaurant in the Taj hotel.[57][58]

Several motorcycles lie in a pool of blood.

[edit] Nariman House

Main article: Nariman House

Nariman House was a Jewish center in Mumbai that was attacked.

The New York Times reported that terrorists held several hostages at the Mumbai Chabad House (also known as Nariman House) in Colaba, owned by Chabad Lubavitch.[59] It was reported in the early morning of 29 November that Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka Holtzberg, who was six months pregnant, were murdered with other hostages inside the house.[60]


[edit] End of the attacks

The army was reported to have secured one of the hotels, and eight hostages were freed at the Jewish outreach group.[49][61][62] After two days of gunfire and explosions, the attack was incorrectly reported to have ceased as of the early morning of 28 November in Mumbai.[63][64] The fires were out and soldiers were leading hostages and holed-up guests to safety and removing bodies of those killed in the attacks.[63] Nariman House and the Oberoi Trident were cleared of hostages by Indian commandos.[63][65] Later news reports indicated that there were still two or three terrorists in the Taj, with explosions heard and gunfire exchanged.[65] Fires were also reported as having been caused at the ground floor of the Taj with plumes of smoke arising from the first floor. Severe damage has been reported to the Taj, with a dome, and parts of the Heritage Wing of the Taj reported to have been destroyed.[65] National Security Guards action resulted in the conclusion of the Taj encounter, with three terrorists reported killed.[66] The final operation at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel was completed at 08:00 on 29 November. The security forces rescued 250 people in Oberoi, 300 in Taj and 12 families of 60 people in Nariman House.

[edit] Methodology

Several sources have quoted Kasav telling the police that the group received help from local Mumbai residents.[67][68]. The terrorists used at least three SIM cards purchased on the Indian side of the border with Bangladesh, pointing to some local collusion.[69] There are also reports of one SIM card purchased in New Jersey, USA[70]. Police have also mentioned that Faheem Ansari, an Indian Lashkar operative who has been arrested in February 2008, has scouted the Mumbai targets for the November attacks[71]. Later, the police arrested two Indian suspects, Tausif Rehman and Mikhtar Ahmad, who is from Srinigar in Kashmir. They supplied the SIM cards, one in Calcutta, and the other in New Delhi.[72]

Blood tests on the terrorists indicate that they consumed cocaine and LSD during the attacks, to sustain their energy and stay awake for 50 hours. Police says that they found syringes on the scenes of the attacks. There were also indications that they had been consuming steroids.[73]

[edit] Casualties

At least 164 people (civilians and security personnel) were killed in the attacks. Among the dead were 30 foreign nationals from 10 countries.[3][42][74][75][76][77]

In addition, nine terrorists were killed and one was captured.[78]

The bodies of many of the dead hostages showed signs of torture or disfigurement.[79] A number of the casualties were notable figures in business, media, and security services.[80][81][82][83]

The Government of Maharashtra announced Rs. 5 lakh (about 10,000 USD) compensation to the kin of those killed in the terror attacks and Rs. 50,000 (about 1,000 USD) to the seriously injured.[84]

The complete list of deceased is available from news sources (NDTV).

[edit] Reactions

In a televised address, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said India would “go after” individuals and organizations behind the terrorist attacks, which were “well-planned with external linkages.”[85] In addition, he said, the attacks were "intended to create a sense of panic by choosing high-profile targets and indiscriminately killing innocent foreigners," Singh said in a televised address to the nation.[86] Leader of the opposition L K Advani has asked the people of India to stay united during this time of emergency.[87]

Several Western countries, including the US, the UK, Australia, France and Canada, advised their citizens to defer travel to Mumbai in the short term (48–72 hours).[88][89]

[edit] International support

The Mumbai attacks have elicited a strong response from leaders around the world, largely expressing condemnation for the acts of terrorism and condolences for the relatives of those killed.[17][86][90] The Indian government reportedly refused an offer of assistance from Israeli intelligence to investigate the attacks.[91]

President of the United States George W. Bush told Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh that American agencies will "throw their weight" behind India's investigation into the Mumbai terror attacks and demonstrate a "shared commitment" to combat terrorism.Pakistan strongly condemned the attacks and offered its intelligence support to combat terrorism.[92]

Sovereign nations have the right to protect themselves, US President-elect Barack Obama said, when asked if India could follow the same policy he advocated during his election campaign — of bombing terrorist camps in Pakistan if there was actionable evidence and Islamabad refused to act on it.[93]

The United States sent a team of agents from its own Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to assist in the probe into the Mumbai attacks and American President George W. Bush pledged "full support" to India in its efforts to unearth the plot behind the deadly terror strikes. While a group of FBI agents were en route to India, a second group of investigators was on alert to join the first team if necessary.[94]

"The FBI continues to monitor the situation in Mumbai and the Counterterrorism Division is reviewing all of the information and intelligence available," bureau spokesman Richard Kolko told The Washington Post.[95]

Australia has sent a team of Federal Police to Mumbai. A group of seven officers have arrived to study the terror attack and the modus operandi used by the terrorists.[96]

Britain has sent 15 forensic experts from the intelligence services to Mumbai to help with the investigations on the attacks on India’s financial capital. A Scotland Yard team is also investigating the terror attack.

Israel had offered a forty-strong team of special operation forces and assistance in investigations.[97]

Malaysian authorities are investigating reports that Malaysian-issued credit cards were found in the belongings of the terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks. Malaysia will also coordinate with Interpol over reports that some of the Mumbai attackers passed themselves off as Malaysian citizens.[98]

[edit] Criticism of politicians and resignations

Indians criticised their political leaders after the attacks, saying their bickering and ineptness was at least partly responsible. The Times of India commented on its front page that “Our politicians fiddle as innocents die".[99]

The anger against the political class in wake of the Mumbai terror attack boiled over with slain NSG commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan's father literally shooing away Kerala chief minister V S Achuthanandan".[100] Public furor was further exacerbated with Mr. Achutanandan's statement in a television interview that "If it had not been Sandeep's house, not even a dog would have gone there".[101] This statement was highlighted by the television channel video interview[102] After this became a major controversy, The chief minister later issued an written apology stating that his remarks were misunderstood.

On 30 November the Minister for Home Affairs Shivraj Patil resigned, taking moral responsibility for the security lapse. After the resignation of Shivraj Patil on 30 November 2008, P. Chidambaram was made the Union Minister for Home Affairs.[103][104] while Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh took over the Finance Ministry from the latter. India's National Security Advisor - M K Narayanan also offered to resign on the same day, but Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh did not accept his resignation.[105]

The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Vilasrao Deshmukh, also resigned on 1st December 2008,[106] and was replaced a few days later by Ashok Chavan. On 1 December the Deputy CM of Maharastra R. R. Patil resigned, when National Congress Party (NCP) Chief Sharad Pawar asked him to tender his resignation,[107] and was replaced by Chhagan Bhujbal. Patil was under tremendous pressure to resign after commenting that the Mumbai terror strikes were "minor incidents."

[edit] Criticism of the anti-terrorist operation

The NSG commandos based in Mehram Nagar, Palam Airport, Delhi took 10 hours to reach the terrorists.[108] [109] They were ready at 01:00 but had to wait for 3 hours, until 03:15 for an aircraft to arrive from Chandigarh, when the policy is that a plane be at Palam permanently. The NSG commandos landed at Mumbai Airport at 05:15, but had to wait 1 hour for the Bombay Police to arrange a few BEST bus for them. They reached the Taj Mahal hotel and the Oberoi Trident hotel at 07:00, but initially were not given detailed maps of the hotels.[108] Furthermore, the operations in the Taj Mahal hotel and Nariman House were conducted under full glare of the media, which may have assisted the terrorists by taking away the element of surprise. [110]

[edit] Indian Muslims

An Indian Muslim organization, the Indian Muslim Council, has refused to bury the nine killed terrorists involved in the attack, and is sending messages to other organizations in India to refrain from burying them. The Muslim Council of India decided not to allow burial of the bodies of the nine terrorists killed during the Mumbai siege in the Marine Lines Bada Qabrastan (cemetery). The council said it was trying to send a message to all cemeteries in India that none of the bodies should be buried on Indian soil.[111][112][113] [114]

Indian Muslims condemned the attacks. Javed Anand, a writer and activist said, "They (terrorists) claim to be doing this in the name of Islam. We have to tell them, 'Not in our name,'"[115] They also conducted several prayers for peace and harmony.[116]

[edit] Demand for self-defense

The war on Mumbai has left the corporate sector of India angry; vulnerable sectors want to be armed. A meeting convened by the Karnataka government with industry heads led to strong demands from industry wanting to be allowed to purchase the best automatic weapons for their private security firms.[117]

[edit] Tribute to victims

Naxalites, who are raging a bitter insurgency in parts of India, gave a gun salute to the victims of Mumbai attack. The Times of India noted that this gesture marked a significant shift in their policy of sympathizing with the "jehadis as victims of the Indian state".[118]

[edit] Media coverage

The Mumbai attacks highlighted the increasing importance of social media and citizen journalism in the way events are reported.[119] Many people covered the unfolding event on websites like Twitter and Flickr, which are largely clustered under search tags such as "mumbai" and "attack" (to which Twitter adds hashtags). The day after the attacks, the Indian government asked Mumbai citizens to cease updating Twitter with live coverage of police activity.[120] The New York Times and BBC offered live textual coverage online, as did many Indian bloggers;[120][121] A map of the attacks was set up using Google Maps.[122] The attacks have been dubbed by some journalists as "India's 9/11", a reference to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.[123][124]

A few days after the attacks, the Indian news channel CNN-IBN re-aired a program 'Operation Water Rat' that they had initally aired in February 2006. The program revealed huge lapses in the Indian Coastal security setup. The reporters had smuggled in crates of apples into Mumbai three times from international waters, by landing their cargo on different beaches near Mumbai. Despite this alarming program having been aired and the reporters having submitted extensive reports to the Mumbai Police, the Maharashtra Police and the Coast Guard, little action was taken to reduce Mumbai's vulnerability to terror attacks from the sea.[125]

[edit] Aftermath

The November 2008 Mumbai attacks had multiple, far-ranging effects. Besides the immediate impact on the victims and their families, the attacks caused widespread anger among the Indian public and condemnations throughout the world.

The immediate impact was felt on Mumbai and Maharashtra state, and throughout urban India. There were also after-effects on the Indian government, center-state relations within India, India-Pakistan relations, domestic impact within Pakistan, on the United States's relationships with both countries, the US-led NATO war in Afghanistan, and on the Global War on Terror.

[edit] Locations

With the exception of the bomb blast at Vile Parle, all the other incidents took place in downtown South Mumbai.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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