India’s 26/11 Dossier
India’s 26/11 Dossier, compiled from:
- The New York Times – “Dossier Gives Details of Mumbai Attacks”
- The Times of India – “Pak in Denial Mode Despite Incriminating Evidence”
In the beginning, they were 32. A squad of suicide bombers assembled in Pakistan, they were taught how to make bombs, withstand interrogation, and fight to their death.
They were whittled down to 10, and on a Saturday morning in November, they set sail from Karachi with coordinates plotted on a global positioning set. Once in Mumbai, they went on a killing spree, leaving 163 dead, all the while receiving detailed instructions and pep talks from their handlers across the border.
The dossier contains photographs of materials found on the fishing trawler they took: a bottle of Mountain Dew soda packaged in Karachi; pistols that bore the markings of a gun manufacturer in Peshawar; Pakistani-made items like a matchbox, detergent powder and shaving cream.
It contains a list of 26 foreigners killed in the Mumbai attacks, and chronicles India’s efforts in recent years to persuade Pakistan to investigate suspects involved in terror attacks inside India and shut down terror training camps inside Pakistani territory. In its final pages, it demands that Pakistan hand over “conspirators” to face trial in India and comply with its promise to stop terrorist groups from functioning inside its territory. It was shared this week with diplomats from friendly nations; one described it as “comprehensive,” another as “convincing.”
The dossier, along with a power-point presentation made to diplomats here, narrates a journey of zeal, foibles and careful planning, one whose blow-by-blow media coverage was followed by handlers, believed to be in Pakistan, and used to caution the gunmen on the ground about the movement of Indian security forces and motivate them to keep fighting.
According to the investigation, the 10 men boarded a small boat in Karachi at 8 a.m. on Nov. 22, sailed a short distance before boarding a bigger carrier believed to be owned by Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a key operative of a banned Pakistan-based terrorist group called Lashkar-e-Taiba. The following day, the 10 men took over an Indian fishing trawler, killed four of its crew members and sailed 550 nautical miles across the Arabian Sea.
Each man carried individual weapon packs: a Kalashnikov, a 9-millimeter pistol, ammunition, hand grenades and a bomb containing a military-grade explosive, steel ball bearings and a timer with instructions inscribed in Urdu.
By 4 p.m. on Nov. 26, the trawler approached the shores of Mumbai. The leader of the crew, identified by Indian investigators as Ismail Khan, 25, from a town in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, contacted their handlers and received instructions. When darkness set in, they killed the captain of the trawler and boarded a motorized dinghy, the engine of which, Indian investigators say, bore marks from a Lahore-based importing company. They reached Mumbai at about 8:30 p.m., and in five teams of two, set upon their targets: Victoria Terminus, the city’s busiest railway station, a tourist haunt called Café Leopold, the Jewish center in Nariman House and two luxury hotels, the Taj and Oberoi.
They made one mistake, investigators say. They left behind Mr. Khan’s satellite phone; it was recovered by Indian investigators and its photograph was included in the dossier. A GPS wasalso recovered from the trawler.
The gunmen seemed to use Indian mobile phones during the course of the attacks. Their counselors, 6 in all, used Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol numbers, including one from an American company called “Callphonex.”
The last call transcript in the dossier is at 10:26 p.m. on Nov. 27, between a gunman inside Nariman House and his interlocutor. “Brother you have to fight,” says the caller. “This is a matter of the prestige of Islam.”
The conversations are chilling and show that the attackers were intent on causing maximum damage, did not want to take any hostages and were brutal in the extreme.
Here’s a sample of a chat between the Pakistani handlers and the terrorists at Taj Hotel:
Caller (from Pakistan): “There are three ministers and a secretary of cabinet in your hotel, we don’t know which room. Keep looking.”
Receiver (terrorist in Mumbai): “That’s icing on the cake.”
Caller: “Find these three or four persons then get whatever you want from India.”
Later, the caller is also heard telling the terrorist that the “wazir” (minister) should not get away. The minister, if there was one in the hotel, did.
At one point, the caller rang again. “Throw one or two grenades on the Navy and police teams. They are outside.”
But the terrorist at the Taj was confused. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I can’t make out where they are.”
The Pakistani handlers obviously couldn’t get enough of the action in Mumbai and were glued to TV, whose blow-by-blow coverage actually helped the terrorists.
‘Under fire, don’t saddle yourself with hostages, kill them’
During a conversation at the Oberoi, the handler told the terrorist, “Keep your cell phone on. We want to hear the gunfire.” Then again, “Everything being recorded by media. Inflict maximum damage. Keep fighting. Don’t be taken alive,” instructed the handler.
During another conversation, he says, “Brother Abdul, the media is comparing your action to 9/11. One of the senior police commissioners has been killed.” Abdul Rehman clearly had other problems in his mind. “We’re on the 10th-11th floor. We’ve five hostages.”
The caller was clear. “Kill all hostages, except Muslims.”
The terrorists had to take permission. “We’ve three foreigners, including two women from Singapore and China.” The answer was brutal. “Kill them.”
Even the terrorists had their troubles, particularly from a certain man from Bangalore who put up a huge fight. “He could be controlled with a big effort.” In all the killing, the handlers tried to make sure no Muslims were killed, but even as the terrorists tried their best, they inflicted huge damage on Indian Muslims killing many at CST and Cama Hospital.
But even the Pakistani handlers were taking orders from a certain “major-general” who is not identified and could be a senior LeT leader. During a conversation in Nariman House, the terrorists asked their handlers for instructions from the “major-general”.
“The major general directed us to do what we like. We shouldn’t worry.” Two factors unexpectedly helped India during the attacks. One was a serendipitous discovery by Indian officials and second was a costly mistake by the terrorists themselves.
Indian officials had been monitoring certain SIM cards that they believed had fallen into terrorist hands in what they thought was an unrelated case. But during the attacks, some of these came alive, which helped them trace the conversations on a real-time basis.
The terrorists’ mistake will cost Pakistan dear. During one conversation, the handlers checked with the “boys” whether they had set fire to the boat or not. The young man replied he had not.
The boss asked, “What did you do to the dead body?” (this would have been the boat owner Solanki.)
The terrorist replied they had left it behind. They had to leave the boat in a big hurry and “we made a mistake.”
“What mistake?” said his handler, ominously. It turned out that neither did they open the bottom locks of the boat which would have sunk it in the sea, nor did they toss the dead body or set the boat on fire.
“When we were getting into the boat the waves were quite high. Another boat came. Everybody raised an alarm that the Navy had come. Everybody jumped quickly. In this confusion, the satellite phone of Ismail got left behind.”
The SIM cards were also important to the investigation. The calls were routed through several SIM cards, one a virtual number in the US, from a company called Cellphone X, owned by one Kharak Singh. The others were from Austria.
It appeared many things were on the planners’ minds. Certainly the India-Israel relationship was high on their calculations. At one stage, the handlers said, “Keep in mind the hostages are of use only if you don’t come under fire. If you are under attack don’t saddle yourself with the hostages. Immediately kill them.”
The handler also reminded the terrorists that “the Army claims to have done their work without any hostage being harmed”.
Another thing: “Israel has made a request to save the hostages. If the hostages are killed it will spoil relations between India and Israel.”
By the morning of Nov. 29, Indian forces had killed 9 of the fighters.
The sole survivor, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, is in the custody of the Mumbai police. His interrogation turned up the most chilling detail: He was part of a cadre of 32 would-be suicide bombers, which was later joined by an additional three men. A team of six went to Indian-administered Kashmir, Mr. Kasab told his interrogators.
Ten were kept in isolation for more than three months, in a house near Karachi, before going to Mumbai.
The dossier says nothing about what happened to the remaining trainees.
(Blog post on dossier: https://littlealexinwonderland.wordpress.com/2009/01/06/indias-2611-dossier)
– PakAlertPress – “Video: Pakistan Response to the Mumbai Dossier (in English) – Must Watch” contains: