November 30th, 2008
09:55 AM ET

Attacks: A first-hand account

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The Hindu

A. Vaidyanathan , eminent economist and a member of the Central Board of Directors of the Reserve Bank of India, was in his room in the heritage wing of Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace and Towers when the terrorists struck on the night of Wednesday, November 26. After his return to Chennai, he spoke to The Hindu on his experience. Here is his first-person account, given to Meera Srinivasan in Chennai on Friday:

I was there for a meeting on the 26th. The meeting was in the afternoon. They usually put me up at the Taj, so I went there. Some of my friends, whom I normally spend time with, were not in town. So I decided to stay back in the room. I ate in the room and was just watching cricket.

Then at 9.30 p.m., things began popping. My room was in the second floor of the Palace, very close to the stairwell of the central dome. That’s where the thing apparently started. It went padapadapda...single shots and then bursts of fire. I was wondering why they were bursting crackers. There was no particular celebration at that time, there was no festival. And certainly inside the Taj wasn’t the place.


Filed under: India • India Attacked
November 28th, 2008
08:55 PM ET

Flash bang in Mumbai – Counter terrorist tactics

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caption="A commando in disguise give details of what went down in the Taj hotel when commandos went in."]
Ken Robinson
Security analyst & former military intelligence officer

Many reports from Mumbai cite gunfire and "grenade" explosions coming from the 5-Star Taj Mahal hotel, the scene of previous terrorist attacks.

It is very possible the gunfire and explosions are actually "room clearing" tactics used by Counter Terrorism forces as they clear rooms.

The tactic of choice is to use what's known as a Flash Bang Simulator, which creates a loud, explosive shock wave, enabling the CT forces to enter a room dynamically, gain a tactical advantage, and overwhelm anyone barracaded inside.

Filed under: India Attacked • Ken Robinson • Terrorism
November 28th, 2008
06:42 PM ET

Hunting for the Mumbai killers

Paul Cruickshank
NYU Center on Law and Security

Editor’s note: This article was published today in The Guardian of London. Don't miss Cruickshank on tonight's show.

India’s commercial and cultural capital has been witnessing a terrorist attack whose ambition and scope has led seasoned observers to call it “India’s 9/11″. But just who was responsible? Shortly after the attacks started, several Indian newspapers reported receiving messages from an unknown group calling itself “Deccan Mujahedeen” and claiming responsibility for the attacks. Could this unknown group be responsible? The answer is almost certainly no.

The nature of the attack – something akin to scores of heavily armed terrorists storming the Waldorf Astoria and Ritz Carlton in New York City and then going on a shooting rampage through Times Square and the Upper East side – suggests months of painstaking logistical and operational planning. Only an established militant group would have had the ability to carry out such an attack. The Deccan Mujahedeen is not such a group.

If capability and track record are anything to go by, it is likely that the attack was either carried out by Indian Mujahedeen, an indigenous Indian militant group or a Kashmiri militant group with ties to al-Qaida such as Lashkar e Toiba, or some combination of the two.

Indian Mujahedeen first emerged as a terrorist threat in India exactly a year ago when it launched attacks in the north of India. Since then it has carried out about a half dozen attacks across the country, most recently launching an attack on a market place in New Delhi in September. Its signature tactic has been to set off multiple explosive devices simultaneously in crowded public spaces such as market places and buses. Hundreds have died in these attacks. Indian Mujahedeen has not to date carried out the sort of brazen armed attack seen in Mumbai in the last days. But it does appear to have had some access in the past to RDX, a military high explosive, which has reportedly now been discovered in Mumbai. On September 23 Mumbai police arrested five suspected Indian Mujahideen leaders in the Mumbai area and found a quantity of RDX in their possession. Also found in their possession was a large amount of ammunition, including ammonium nitrate rods, detonators and sub machine guns.


Filed under: India Attacked • Paul Cruickshank • Terrorism
November 28th, 2008
05:55 PM ET

Inside the Oberoi: One survivor's story

Watch Canadian Jonathan Ehrlich describe his harrowing and narrow escape from the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai.

Filed under: India Attacked • Jonathan Ehrlich • Terrorism
November 28th, 2008
04:43 PM ET

Mumbai witnesses text message reporter

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caption="Two of the hostages freed after police stormed the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai."]
Program note: See Sara Sidner's full report during special CNN coverage of the Mumbai attacks, tonight, 7-9p ET.

SARA SIDNER, CNN Correspondent: I'm just getting a text message from four Americans who have been inside this hotel from Chicago who we have been talking to throughout this 42 or 43-hour ordeal now. They have apparently been taken out. They have made it out and they are well.

The family is writing me, and they are very happy. And so, we should say that that group of four people who are calling and saying we're running out of water - sorry, they made it out and so the family is very happy.

CAROL COSTELLO, American Morning Contributor: Oh, you're so emotional about this. You've established a relationship with the family in Chicago then and have been texting them often, right?

SIDNER: Yes. Over the past few hours, I text them "are you OK," because I heard all of the loud bangs. As I was coming from my hotel, I had taken down for a few hours and was feeling quite guilty that I wasn't out here watching the situation. And when I got back, I got a text from one of their family members in Chicago saying we have gotten a text from them. They say they are out. They've been led out, and they are safe. Just a few moments ago, I got a text saying, "We are safe."

Read more about how Sara Sidner stayed in contact with the Mackoff family while they were trapped in the Taj Mahal hotel for 48 hours during the Mumbai attacks.

Filed under: India Attacked • Sara Sidner • Terrorism
November 28th, 2008
04:07 PM ET

Who attacked India, and why?

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caption="A commando during the operation at the Jewish center."]
Program note: See Peter Bergen's full report during special CNN coverage of the Mumbai attacks, tonight, 7-9p ET.
Peter Bergen
CNN National Security Analyst

It was an al Qaeda-influenced attack with western targets, British targets, American targets, Jewish targets, multiple coordinated attacks. In terms of who could have done this, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials that I've been speaking with recently, they don't think that this could be just simply a local indigenous group.

We have seen numerous terrorist attacks in India, of course, and in Bombay. But some of the attacks in Bombay - one of the counterterrorism officials I talked to pointed to the '93 attack in Bombay which killed 250 people, multiple attacks, was coordinated according to the U.S. government by a guy called Daoud Ebraham (ph). Now Daoud Ebraham (ph) is an Indian gangster with strong links to Pakistan.

He's believed to be living in Karachi right now, Karachi, Pakistan, the large port city where it is possible that the ship came from that delivered the terrorists, so that's one angle I'm sure investigators are going to be looking at. A significant Kashmir militant group conducted a similar operation to what we've seen in Bombay against the Indian Parliament back in December of 2001 where numerous gunmen was sent into the Parliament on a de facto suicide mission, shot up the Parliament. It nearly brought India and Pakistan to war in 2002, perhaps the intent again with these recent attacks to kind of inflame tensions between these two long-time rivals.


Filed under: al Qaeda • India Attacked • Peter Bergen • Terrorism
November 28th, 2008
02:48 PM ET

India attacked: First accounts from survivors

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/11/27/india.attacks.responsibility/art.gunman.jpg caption="One of the gunmen is pictured in Mumbai, India, during the deadly attacks."]
Program note: Watch an interview with the Scotts' son, Jonathan Macoff, tonight during special CNN coverage of the Mumbai attacks.  Tonight, 7-9p ET.

This report first aired on CNN-IBN and CNN Newsroom. Below is a rough transcript of an interview with two American survivors of the Mumbai attacks.

CNN-IBN Reporter: The story of every survivor we have met today is really the same, Indian or foreigner that kept us on tenterhooks that survived today. I'm being joined by Patricia and Bruce - I think they look safe all, they're continuing to stay here in India.

Yes, of course, of course. It was the only phone we had. The battery was running down. The phones in the hotel, the TV wasn't working, the lights were hardly working. They had re-invented our tour and we're not going home. We are not going to let the terrorists win there and ruin every thing.

We heard some noise outside. We didn't see or hear anybody, we didn't see terrorists but when I looked through I saw what looked like police. They were wearing armor, and a body armor, they had weapons. So I kind of tapped on the door and made a little, hello, I'm in here. I was afraid if I ran in the hall, they might think I was a bad guy. So we were very careful about that. They came in, they checked our credentials and they looked at our passport, they made sure the room was clean and they brought us out. They brought us down the 17 floors and we're here to tell the story and thank God.


Filed under: India Attacked • Patricia Scott • Terrorism
November 28th, 2008
02:07 PM ET

India terrorists – guns without conscience

Gary Tuchman
AC360 Correspondent

The terrorists who killed so many innocent humans in India are thugs. They are not any smarter, any better, any more noble, or any more thoughtful than the thugs who murder people during bank robberies in Miami, convenience store hold-ups in Los Angeles, or carjackings in Chicago.

There's a tendency among some to marvel at how "well coordinated" an attack like this India one was. Well, don't marvel. If you no longer held a real job, were given bucket loads of money, and had a multitude of time on your hands, you too could "well coordinate" such a plan.

Fortunately, most people have consciences. Let's not allow society to romanticize and marvel over the planning of terrorists' soulless and monstorous escapades.

They are no different from your average street thug.

Filed under: Gary Tuchman • India • India Attacked
November 28th, 2008
02:06 PM ET

The deep Jewish roots in India

David Schechter
CNN Senior National editor

Some people have been puzzled or surprised that a Jewish Center, called a Chabad house, was attacked in Mumbai. It's true that the Jewish population in India numbers just a few thousand - in a country of billions. But Jews have a long history in India, maybe 2,500 years; and some say they are descended from one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel.

Most of India's Jews live in Mumbai, making it a natural place to find Chabad, a movement within Orthodox Judaism that sends emissaries world-wide from its headquarters in the Crown Heights section of New York City.

Mumbai also is a center of international business and a city frequented by young Israelis, who set off to see the world after completing their military service obligation and before entering university. Chabad is even big in Katmandu.

Chabad is an acronym of the Jewish words for wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Though rooted in the oldest of Jewish beliefs, Chabad also spreads its message online at http://www.chabad.org. And if you'd like to know more, a good read about Chabad is "The Rebbe's Army" by Sue Fishkoff.

Watch Nic Robertson's report on the stand-off at a Chabad in Mumbai.

Filed under: David Schechter • India • India Attacked
November 28th, 2008
02:02 PM ET

The FBI – ready for Mumbai

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caption="Security forces outside the Taj Mahal Hotel."]
Kelli Arena
CNN Washington Correspondent

The FBI has a team ready to fly to Mumbai and join the investigation. Officials are working with Indian diplomats to get them there. They need an invitation from the Indian government. And the State Department is still discussing Indian officials how the FBI would operate once it hits the ground.

That can be a delicate negotiation with any country. But U.S. ties to Pakistan, India's longtime enemy, make it more complicated.

Whenever Americans are injured or killed anywhere in the world by a terrorist attack, the FBI opens a case. But it can only operate in another country with that government's permission.

After the U.S. embassy Bombings in Nairobi, there was full and total cooperation. After the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, there were more guarded dealings with the host government.

In India's case, you have a strong, sovereign, and fairly well organized government that has investigators from Canada, Great Britain, Australia and other countries all asking for access because their citizens were victims here.

The Indian government will have to arrange whatever access they will grant for each country's agencies. For the FBI, the State Department will have to negotiate that carefully.

Filed under: India • India Attacked • Kelli Arena • Terrorism
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