Many more questions about the terror attacks
November 28, 2008 | 11:50 IST
After we first posted a list of unanswered questions about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai 10 days ago, hundreds of readers mailed us with their own questions that need to be investigated by the security agencies.
We are posting the most relevant questions here.
After he was arrested, early reports -- based on briefings by the Mumbai police -- said the captured thug was fluent in English. The investigating agencies now say he hails from an impoverished background and only studied up to Class IV. So where did his fluency in English comes from? Is he pretending to be something he is not?Why was the captured terrorist and his murderous mate sent out on this mission of mayhem? Unlike the others, who operated within the confines of buildings like the Taj, the Oberoi-Trident and Nariman House, these two men functioned in the open. Did they disregard orders to stay in the CST and take hostages? Did they abandon those plans because CST was sparsely populated at that late hour?The terrorists were said to be familiar with Google Earth, navigational equipment and satellite phones. Would school dropouts have that kind of technical savvy?How many terrorists were there was the first question we posted on Friday morning. The official version after the attacks ended was: 10 terrorists, of which 9 were killed and one arrested. The break-up being: 2 at CST; 2 at Nariman House; 2 at the Oberoi-Trident hotels; 4 at the Taj. But this arithmetic does not explain how just two terrorists took charge of both the Oberoi and Trident hotels, which is a much larger area than the Taj. In Tuesday's Times of India newspaper, a survivor says there were between 5 and 6 terrorists at the Oberoi-Trident. The two thugs who mowed down many guests in cold blood (this survivor and a couple of others were shot, but survived) and three or four others who came in later to shoot photographs of the bodies. Where did the other men vanish? Were they captured by the commandos so that the intelligence agencies could interrogate them without any scrutiny? Or, more worrying, did they walk out as guests when the siege ended?The day after the attacks began, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told a press conference there may have been between 20 to 25 terrorists, a number that was subsequently revised.The terrorists are said to have set up control rooms at the Taj and Trident hotels, a Cabinet minister told PTI on Thursday. When were these bookings made? A detailed investigation into the bookings made at both hotels in the months, weeks and days before the attacks may reveal the names of suspicious guests who registered there.Military sources tell rediff.com that there was no way the terrorists could have carried so much ammunition with them when they assaulted the two hotels with their guns blazing. They believe the ammunition may have been stored earlier in rooms at both the hotels, perhaps on the higher floors.If some of the terrorists had registered at the hotels earlier, could these men/women have left along with the guests who were released? Did the police record the identities and addresses of the guests who were released from both hotels?Indian Hotels Chairman Ratan Tata indicated on Thursday that the terrorists had intimate knowledge of the Taj, its service corridors, its layout. Does this mean that they had a mole inside the Taj? Or more worrying, did a couple of them work there at some point of time? Did they have drawings of the layout of the two hotels?If the terrorists were Pakistani, how did they have such an intimate knowledge of the terrain? The two or three cowards who attacked the CST on Wednesday night made their way from the CST through a road on the left side of The Times of India building towards the Cama and Albess hospital/Azad Maidan police station, a route that is known only to true-blood Mumbaikars. Were they locals? Or did they conduct extensive reconnisance of the likely routes of escape?These same two or three men, who are said to have commandeered ATS Chief Hemant Karkare's police Qualis after shooting him, Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte and Inspector Vijay Salaskar, revealed similar familarity with the road outside the Esplanade Court, making an easy U-turn towards the Metro cinema junction rather than head on the road towards the CST. How did they know this if they were Pakistanis?How did those men, whose images have appeared all over the world, get to the CST from Colaba where they are said to have landed by boat? Did they take a taxi? Or did they have local transportation? Did they come by a suburban train, which could explain the firing on one of the suburban train platforms? Who left the grenade on the Gitanjali Express, which killed a Bengali mother?The terrorists are said to have done extensive reconnisance of the city. If they are Pakistanis, how did they get earlier entry to the city unnoticed? Did they come in by boat? Or did they use other routes to escape notice?Such an operation could not have been conducted without extensive training and preparation, possibly on models of the Taj and Trident or Chabad House/Nariman House. Could this have been achieved at the rudimentary training camps hosted by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba in Pakistan occupied Kashmir? Or was it a more systematised operation conducted by a State agency in a hostile country?How did they know Chabad House/Nariman House, which even long-time residents of Colaba -- the area in South Mumbai where the Taj, the Leopold Cafe and Chabad/Nariman House are located -- are unfamiliar with? The choice of this target indicates precision thinking -- it is doubtful if the Lashkar strategists are capable of such deep strategy -- and again points the needle of suspicion at a government intelligence agency in a nation inimical to India or renegades within such a bureau.Early on Thursday morning, the television channels spoke about an exchange of fire between the terrorists and the police near the Liberty cinema (which is close to the Metro cinema/Cama hospital, but situated on an inner road). There was even fear expressed that these terrorists would enter the Bombay hospital, but nothing was heard about them thereafter. Where did they go? Were these two/three terrorists the same men who took over the police Qualis and shot at people near the Metro junction? Or have they escaped?The police say the two men, who took over the Qualis, grabbed the Skoda that was halted at a police road block near the Girgaum Chowpatty beach. One of them was later killed by the police. Where did the other man go? Is he the Ismail, the Lashkar terrorist who is appparently singing like a canary to the police? Or is he someone else? If these are the two of the three terrorists who attacked the CST, what happened to the third man seen in photographs and video captures? Where did he vanish?Another terrorist is said to be in custody. Where was he captured? What has he told the police?The Times of India reported on Friday morning that wellknown food critic Sabina Sehgal-Saikia's cellular phone recorded activity in the Raigad area, which is located across the sea from the Taj, where she was staying on the night of the attacks? Nothing has been heard from Saikia for over a day, so how did her phone reach Raigad? Could one of the terrorists have escaped under the guise of a guest to the Raigad area?To this Mohit says: Sabina's husband has clarified that Airtel reps have told him that since the towers around Taj were shut down, it is possible that the phone might have picked up the signal from Raigad tower. Could some of the terrorists have come by boat from the Alibag-Murud Janjira area in Maharashtra's Raigad district, rather than from Pakistan? Boats ply through the day from the Alibaug area to the Gateway of India, and it would be easy for terrorists to use this mode of transport rather than high-speed boats which would have attracted the Coast Guard's attention.According to a Maharashtra Times report, the two terrorists who killed the three police officers on Wednesday night spoke Marathi! This disclosure casts fresh doubt on the origin of the terrorists. Or did each terrorist from an enemy nation have an Indian accomplice accompanying him?If the attacks were restricted to South Mumbai for logistical reasons, who was responsible for the explosion on the taxi near the Santa Cruz airport in northwest Mumbai, which is located at least 25 km from Colaba?
Uttara wants to know: If the terrorists are interested in something, how come they have not made any demands in spite of having taken so many hostages? If they kept the hostages for so long, they should have started negotiations also. This indicates that they have some other, larger ultimate objective. What is that, and has it been investigated?The Deccan Mujahideen may or may not be a valid front. Has the Andhra Pradesh police and security forces started investigating that? What are the results of that?Has there been any additional discussion on the terrorists who might have escaped into Bombay city, apart from these three locations? If the dead terrorists had blueprints of the major areas in the city, it means that they might launch an attack on these locations after the Taj, Oberoi and Colaba encounters are over. Have the police been investigating this, and has there been any safety precautions? The names of these places should be circulated, and civilians asked to refrain from going to those locations, so that casualties can be at a minimum. When will this be done?
Ravi wants to know: Why did the terrorists not blow up the full building itself? What can be the reason for this? I do not believe that they do not have the ammunition for that or planning. I believe if they wanted they could have done it.
Winnie wants to know: What is the Navy doing around the Colaba area? Why is it not monitoring or keeping a check on what goes on in the seas just below its nose?Why doesn't Mumbai have enough fire ladders or other equipment which can put out fires like the ones set at the Taj?Even in a terrorist attack why are most of our constabulary seen with antique rifles and without bulletproof attire?Why are civilians seen in and around the affected areas in spite of a curfew call?Why do the best hotels in Mumbai have such pathetic security?
Govind wants to know: Are the CCTV records of the hotels available?Assuming such large quantities of weapons had been pre-stored in the hotels, is there any security system to search these bags while being taken to the hotel?Are there any missing hotel staff after the attack?
Rajendra wants to know: How come the terrorists were able to fight for more then 40 hours? This is very clear that all these people got the arms and weapons ready on site in advance. Isn't this a question on the qualification and intelligence of our police and all other security agencies?
Sujoy wants to know: Manmohan Singh has claimed that this terror attack has been executed by external forces. What proof has the government got in order to make such a claim? Every time a situation like this happens, the government of India makes such claims and then they give no proof to anyone, especially the common people who are always kept in dark.
Vinu wants to know: When the commandos of the navy and the army are there why were ATS officers involved in the operation, who are ill equipped and lost their life? The man who ordered this should be held responsible for the death of bright officers and must be procecuted.
Lokesh wants to know: Why the BCCI does not organise India-Pakistan cricket matches on neutral grounds? How many Pakistanis return after the match? How many sneak through on a tourist visa?Why cant we have a centralised SSN (Social Security Number) system in India?
Amit wants to know: Whether there are terrorists holed up in other parts of Mumbai and surroundings, as they were inside those targeted hotels? What action is necessary for those hiding terrorists in other parts, right now unknown to us?How did they procure AK-56 rifles? What action is necessary which need to be taken for controling smuggling of these weapons inside Indian territory?Are we planning to carry out operations inside Pakistan where the terrorists' headquarters are firmly believed to be located, if Pakistan cannot capture those responsible and as we have every right for pre-emptive action?Whether we will take help of the Pakistan government and other countries in conducting such secret operations inside Pakistan to capture terrorists, as the United States is doing presently inside Pakistan if their weak system cannot achieve this?
Sarnath wants to know: How did the room service guys not find the bombs if it had been preserved somewhere within the Taj? Some room service guys are involved? Someone inside the Taj is definitely involved.
King c wants to know: One report said that a taxi laden with explosives was on its way to have a fidayeen attack on the Mumbai International Airport. But something went wrong and the taxi exploded at Vile Parle under the flyover itself. The question is -- who was driving the taxi? How did they get hold of the taxi? Was there support from locals?How can the terrorists fight for over 40 hours without any sleep?(In response, Pradeep says: Yes, there are certain drugs like Dexedrine who can keep one awake for 72 to 96 hours but at the end one has to compensate for the wakefulness. They shoot up the blood pressure, hence are banned from the market. I think 48 to 72 hours was what the terrorists were bargaining for).The television visuals clearly showed Hemant Karkare wearing a helmet and a bullet-proof vest. How did he get hit in the chest?How could the three top cops travel together in an operation? Shouldn't they have been given back-up and cover?It is said that there was a massive recruitment drives at the hotels a few months ago. It is suspected that a few of the terrorists's aides might have infiltrated into the organisation of the hotel. Is this being investigated?
Kunal wants to know: I just heard from a guy who escaped from the Taj on Aaj Tak. He said that he saw a lot of security personnel, but none of them questioned him when he escaped from the rear of the Taj. This means that the terrorists as well could don a normal citizen's clothes and escape without any questions asked. I want to know what about Mumbai or rather Indian citizens's security if even one among them gets lost in Mumbai's crowds?
J D Kamble/Sachin wants to know: Why were the helicopters not brought in at the earlier stage? Why are the helicopters not provided with water tanks?Why was tear gas not used to disable the terrorists? Why was morphine gas not used?(in response, Pradeep points out 'one reader wants to know why morphine gas was not released to make the terrorists unconscious. There is nothing like morphine gas. It is only seen in the movies.)'
Rohan wants to know: All the security forces are searching for a ship. Is it possible that a submarine dropped off the terrorists?
Mohit wants to know: The terrorists used satellite phones to communicate. How come their satellite phones worked and could not be traced or jammed?How can the government allow the television channels to broadcast live what is happening at the three locations? These might have watched by some of the terrorists's agents around the country and helped communicate with the terrorists in the hotel who had satellite phones.
Nilesh wants to know: With a major naval headquarters in Mumbai, how come the marine commandos came into action only the subsequent morning?Why is there no permanent base of NSG commandos in Mumbai? And why did they take 10 hours to get to Mumbai?
Anirudh wants to know: Why did the terrorists choose that late hour to begin their assault? Did they plan to attack CST and the hotels after peak hours, or were their plans held up in some way? Or did they choose that time to avoid even the small risk of being challenged by a policeman?How can people carry huge rifles slung across their shoulders in the midst of a milling crowd? They are not like handguns which can be concealed under clothing and taken out when they need to be used. How come there was no panic just upon sighting people with rifles marching into a railway station or hotel lobby?Did the Taj Mahal hotel officials have any sort of permission or authority from the Mumbai police before relaxing their security measures just days before the attack? If so, on what grounds was the permission granted? As a corollary, were the terrorists waiting for the measures to be relaxed before striking?
Prashant wants to know: I was once stopped by the Taj hotel staff for being in slippers (chappals). If you can be so alert to look down at chappals (for w/e reasons), how come the same security system blunders when the ammunitions were being stored in the room well in advance?What could have been the motive of the taxi blast?
Venkatesh wants to know: The arms and ammunition being used by the terrorists --- are they purchased inside India? Or sent from outside?If the ammunition is purchased in India, why can't the government regulate buying and selling such explosives and all chemicals used in the manufacturing of the explosives? What was the hotel security doing when the terrorists barged into the hotel? Were the security personnel unarmed or just not equipped enough to face the attack? If this is the case, then is the security system in our country foolproof? Do we have enough protocols to face different kinds of threats?The terrorists posses Indian rupees -- used to pay for rent, and make purchases. How are they able to get Indian currency? Does the RBI keep track of all the Indian rupee notes going outside India?
Mehul's analysis and unanswered questions:
The primary target seems to have been to capture the Taj and Oberoi hotels and take a bunch of hostages.
The events at VT, Leopold's, Metro etc were diversions to create panic and ensure the police were spread thin and could not respond quickly to calls from the 2 hotels.
If the motive was to inflict maximum damage, the terrorists seem to have done very poorly with the resources they had in terms of time, ammunition and equipment. They had more than 600 people locked in the 2 hotels for more than 10 hours before the NSG got there...An AK-47 can fire 600 rounds per minute.
From about 10:30 pm on 26th November to about 8 am on 27th November there was a complete standoff at both the hotels. There were a few guests who managed to get out at about 3 am from the Taj but there was no full scale assault by the Indian forces till the NSG got there at 8 am.
What took place during that period of 10 hours is the key to understanding the motive of the terrorists.
If the terrorists just wanted to kill everyone, they had ample opportunity to do so. They were obviously holding out for some kind of deal. Did the NSG spend those 10 hours negotiating a deal? Did they even make contact? I find it hard to believe that the NSG stormed the place and rescued almost every person taken hostage.
The other worrying thing is..what prevented the terrorists (or some of them) from getting rid of their guns and just walking out of the hotel, pretending to be one of the hotel guests? Hundreds of people got out of the Taj at 3-4am. Were all of them questioned?
The presence of American intelligence officials at the Taj that night adds another twist. There were also a group of EU officials present at the Taj for an Indo-EU summit. The terrorists had also captured group of Israelis at Nariman house. What happened to these groups? Who exactly were they? Were they the targets?
The circumstances in which three top Mumbai policemen charged with investigating the underworld were shot is puzzling as well. Only a trained sharpshooter with inside information could have managed to do this. The fact that the sniper then got away in the police van adds further credence to the fact that he had help from the inside.
Sridhar wants to know: Is it clear at this point that most of the terrorists are Punjabi? Watching videos on India TV, I see them referring to incidents like Babri Masjid and Gujarat and also sporadic Hindi words like Neta, Shanti and parivar, but the accent is undeniably Punjabi. One terrorist also used the word 'Rab' interchangeably with Allah, and referred to 'Waqt' as 'WAKAT'. What is more all their sound bytes were basic monologues, that they seem to have memorised. And in the Big Picture, looking at their clean cut faces, lithe physiques and smart logistical moves and mastery over weapons, what are the chances that these are not terrorists, but trained Pakistani commandos themselves?
Deepti wants to know: Why did the security personnel not think of using helicopters to air-drop personnel on the roof tops of the hotels at the beginning? It would have made operation more effective and speedy. They could have made a recce of the roof top in the early morning and could have planned air-dropping commandos on the roof top. Why was that option not considered?
Vipin wants to know: We all know that the operation took time because the commandos were searching each and every room at the hotels and had no idea in which room the terrorists were hiding. Is it technically not feasible to tell how many people are there across the room with the help of some penetrating laser light etc?
Ahmed wants to know: How could they have travelled 900 km to Indian territory in deeply guarded waters undetected?
Viraj wants to know: What was the RDX going to be used for? The police found 8 kgs of RDX behind Taj. Was this forgotten by the terrorists? Or was this a drop point for them to pick up later? The explosions inside the hotels were mainly grenades and plastic explosives.There are differing reports on how the top decorated officers got shot. Were they in the same car as reported by the Mumbai Mirror? Or were they shot somewhere else?When a machine gun is sprayed normally the cops would have got hit by one bullet. How did Hemant Karkare have 3 shots in his chest? There is still no explanation on why he would remove his bullet-proof vest when he had worn it on live television?
Srikant wants to know: Was any staff in the hotels on leave for the last few days? Any new employee joining the staff in recent days? This coordinated attack would not have been possible without the help of somebody from the hotel.Why was there so much delay in getting the NSG unit from Pune?Why was not anything done in terms of jamming the frequencies of the satellite phones? Satellite phones use a different frequency than normal mobile phones so a frequency jammer could have been installed in the hotel vicinity? Why are we not getting the stats on the terrorists bodies?Have the calls made from the hotels in the last week to places outside India been analysed?
Gautam wants to know: Why did the terrorists choose a Wednesday night to attacks these popular Western tourist hotels? A weekend might have caused greater damage. This leads me to believe that it might have been convenient for them to do it on the particular day. Maybe the ship they supposedly caught sailed accordingly. It is a possibility that there were groups that arrived by various means to Colaba.How many were there in all? I read an eye-witness (a lady staying in the fishermen colony nearby) claiming that she saw 6 people getting out of a boat and walking towards the Taj/Trident. There were definitely more that 6. Since the TV cameras caught a few of them, it should be straightforward to get the exact count along with the help of survivors.The TV crew managed to get photos of the terrorists standing in the window with guns. They appeared to look like nice targets for snipers. How come there were no snipers taking shots at them?Were there any photographs of the terrorists taken by hostages on cell phone cameras?
Satish wants to know: From the TV footage, the commandos don't seem to have the following equipment. It would be great to know what the government's position is on equipping the personnel with the following hi-tech equipment: a. Night-vision goggles. These would have helped the commandos gain thermal imagery of the terrorists and their location in the night. B. Headsets with wireless communication: We normally see soldiers deployed in the Iraq / Afghanistan operations using these. C. Bullet-proof vests/ helmets. The vests the officers were wearing appeared to be very flimsy and not effective. What is the quality of these vests?
Prakash wants to know: 40 hours without sleep or rest?? You can't do it even when you are just sitting. I can't imagine in that intense situation. So were they using any medical stuff?? If so, can't we know through post mortem what those medicines are and how and where the possibility of them coming from??
Sunil wants to know: Did the government appoint any one officer at the head of the operation to combat these attacks? It seems different group of security forces were working independently without any coordination and clear guidance?
Sulekha wants to know: The army claims it had sent a warning about a suspicious boat/ship, why wasn't this followed up by the government? Why didn't the army check with the government again to make sure it was followed upon?Different passports have been found from the terrorists, what do they suggest?Two cars were reported to have sped away with terrorists. Have the cars been found? Have the terrorists been captured? Have they been killed?Considering the well planned attack that they have conducted and their eye for detail, isn't it possible that the terrorists have eyes outside of the three locations they captured? What measures are being taken to find out who else could be part of the mission besides the terrorists who have been involved in activity in these three places?
Ajay wants to know: In one video, when the late Hemant Karkare was putting on his bullet-proof jacket, I noticed that one person was hiding his face from camera. As the camera moved, this guy moved along with the camera by covering his face. Who was that person?
Rajeev wants to know: I have a simple query to those who have put up CCTV. Is this footage meant to be seen after the event or monitored real-time?
Kanna says: Suppose A checks into TAJ on 1st Nov, (carries minimum stock). On 3rd Nov at 4 pm B checks in along with his stock. A moves his stock to B's room and checks out at 5 pm. On 6th Nov C checks in at 7 pm. B's stock along with A's is moved to C. B checks out at 8 pm..... and so on till the D Day. A study of the check in and outs should also be studied.
Siddharth notes: It would be a good idea to review short sale positions on hotel scrips, specially Indian Hotels. Who had taken large short sale positions on Indian Hotels before 26/11? It could lead to some more clues.
Satish notes: While it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that there is adequate security for each citizen, it is surprising to see the amount of ammunition and equipment present in these hotels. Is it the responsibility of the hotel management to ensure adequate security, checks and balances and compliance with KYC norms? The management of these hotels is therefore equally answerable for the disaster of this magnitude.
The management of these hotels should also provide adequate insurance cover as 5 star hotels charge premium rates from guests. If the management is unable to take care of its customers/premium guests, they have to be equally answerable instead of blaming only the government.
Hotel managements' inability to provide the complete details of its occupants shows the careless attitude of the staff and the failure of the hotel administration as the traffic of terrorists to hotels must be going on for months to plant operations of this size and magnitude. No effort should be spared to put in place a fully considered and partnered solution with joint investigations/thoughts of the management of these hotels and other establishments with the government.
Moby wants to know: The army said the terrorists keep shifting their positions from one floor to another, and from one room to another. Why was their transit area not checked and blocked initially? To go from one floor to another they would use a lift, stairs or laundry passage. To go from one room to another they have to pass through corridors. Why were all these not blocked and secured initially?
Sirish wants to know: If the terrorists are killed, why are the photographs not released? This would help intelligence agencies across the states and other countries to check their background.Even if we agree that the terrorists landed a few days back and then planned this, did they carry all the ammunition, guns and goods from their hideouts to the hotel? Or was someone waiting for them at these points to hand it over to them?
Bappa wants to know: At every railway station in Mumbai policemen and women record every visitor's name, address and phone number. Is this really working?
Amit wants to know why the NSG was not provided blueprints of the Taj, Trident and Nariman House. It was easily available at the Bombay Municipal Corporation which could have helped them a lot.
Sitapati wants to know why all the rescued were not taken to a specific location, their identities ascertained before they were released? Who knows a terrorist could have escaped and is at large?
Emeraldin wants to know: Why don't the police show the terrorists' pictures to the public and ask whether they have seen any of these guys earlier? The authorities might be able to collect important information.
Hafiz wants to know: In a telephone interview with CBC News journalist Arun Asthana said there are reports that some of the militants had stayed at a guest house there (Nariman House) for up to 15 days before the attacks. "They had a huge mass of ammunition, arms and food there," Asthana said. How did they know about the Jewish centre when even most locals were unaware about it?A quote from an article in the DNA newspaper: "They had purchased around two crates of chicken and liquor worth Rs 25,000 from two shops in Colaba," another resident Joseph D'Mello said. "They then entered the Nariman House building and took the Israeli family captive." If they were fundamentalist Muslims, what were they doing buying large quantities of liquor?According to a BBC article by Soutik Biswas: 'Locals say the orgy of killings in Mumbai began here. Three men walked into the cafe, drank beer, settled their bills and walked out. Then they fished out guns from their bags and began firing.' What were they doing drinking beer if they were fundamentalist Muslims?Quoting the same BBC article by Soutik Biswas: "They did not look Indian, they looked foreign. One of them, I thought, had blonde hair. The other had a punkish hairstyle. They were neatly dressed," says Mr Amir." What nationality were these "foreign looking" blonde haired guys who were part of the terrorist group?
Querelle wants to know : The timing of the attack on Thanksgiving in the USA made sure that a large American audience watched this unfold. Is this a first shot in an opening gambit, much as the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas was a precursor to attack on those Twin Idols in New York City?
Krishna wants to know: How many terrorists arrived? How can you assume that all have been accounted for?How come even before their mission was over, the arrested terrorist is telling all that we WANT TO HEAR?How come an important clue like a GPS instrument was left behind so that we could find it? How come the GPS (a very helpful and expensive instrument) was not carried along?? How come it is easy to blow the JW Marriott in Pakistan (which was inside a guarded compound), but cars with RDX were not used to blow away the Taj?
Khalfan wants to know: Is it me alone who noticed on the wrist of one of the 'terrorists' (the short fat pudgy one) the yellow saffron band that is only worn by Hindus and Buddhists?
Raj wants to know: As per details by the army and other officials, the terrorists who were killed and arrested are as follows: Nariman House: 2 killed; Oberoi/ Trident Hotel: 2 killed; Girgaum road, those who were in the Skoda after they left the police Qualis: 1 killed and 1 arrested; Taj Hotel: 4 killed. Which comes to a total of 9 killed and 1 arrested, which is the figure given by officials. So the two blasts which took place in a taxi -- one in Vile Parle and one in Dockyard Road, which were said to be terror attacks. If we consider one terrorist in each taxi, why are these 2 not in the count of those killed?
Trisha wants to know: If the Taj had central AC, why didn't anybody think of blowing in anesthetic gas to tranquilise all and then take charge of the whole building? The number of lives lost and damage could have been much less.
Caroline notes: Just wanted to know, how the security personnel storming the two hotels could shoot and use hand grenades in a bid to flush out the terrorists, knowing there could be hostages inside. How could they know they were targeting only the terrorists and that the hostages were not likely to get shot at or injured in the process. Considering there could be women and children too in there.
The news reporters have, personally I feel, been overtly responsible for the terrorists to get information on what was happening every step of the way and accordingly planned their next move. There was no immediate or pressing need that the people of India be informed of minute by minute details of what was happening. More important was saving the lives of hostages and catching the terrorists.
Also, the commando chief should not have spoken to news people during the crisis informing them how many men had been deployed etc.
Moreover, the crowd of onlookers should have been told to leave the spot immediately . The area should have been cordoned off. Abroad, such places are off-limits to all. Even reporters. Even while the shooting was on, bystanders were around.
Just to say that its going to be a long, long while before there are any changes in the mentality of us Indians.
Nishesh wants to know: In rediff's article "A commando's account" there is an observation about the numbers involved in the Taj operation. Therein it is stated "we saw there were more than 8 terrorists." The DG, NSG talks about only 4. What is the truth?
Aravind wants to know: While cleaning the hotel rooms daily, did nobody notice this much foodstuff and lot of bags kept in the terrorists's room?
Nejal wants to know: How much arms and ammunition did they have to fight up to 61 long hours?
Renjith wants to know: Are the commandos well equipped for this type of operation? Do they have proper equipment to gather intelligence before or during the battle? Do they have any night vision equipment? Marco commando leader was quoting they were hindered by the lack of light and lack of knowledge about the Taj. Normally commandos prefers operations at night because they get the advantage over the enemy due to better visibility and coordination.Do they have any type of communication jammers to prevent the terrorists from communicating with each other and coordinating the operation against the commandos?The terrorists were not using gas masks. Why we didn't look for that option to save the hostages without any casualties?Do they have any audio or visual aids like sound recorders or remote controlled movable cameras to explore the hidden areas without risking their lives?
Rakesh wants to know: Were the terrorists not using hostages as human shields? In a TV interview an injured commando from his hospital bed said that they used a charge to blow off the door and then lobbed grenades inside the room. He also said he was not sure how many terrorists were there and the terrorist was getting cover fire from his buddy so there were at least 2 in the room. So how did the commando who lobbed grenades ascertain there were no hostages inside the room being used as human shields?Also, in a TV interview, the injured policeman accompanying Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte said they were asked to look out for a red car, and they saw the car but were ambushed by the terrorists 100 metres ahead of the car. So did the terrorists have real-time information of the police vehicle? How come all the 3 top cops were traveling in the same vehicle and that too seated in the front? Why did Salaskar decide to drive the vehicle himself? If Hemant Karkare was shot in the chest the photo of his body being taken for cremation had blood clot marks under his right eye and top of the right cheek?
Sameer wants to know: The boats had landed in fishermen's colony at around 9 at night. How could the alien terrorists locate the landing site at night, considering a very long shoreline? Does that mean local sleeper cells helped them with a beacon or signal from the shore?The NSG copter deployed commandos on the Nariman House terrace on the 3rd day. Why not on the Oberoi's terrace on the second day?What are the security agencies doing about the local sleeper cells?
Nilesh wants to know: In the Nariman house operation, it was pretty clear that there were hostages and it was located within the vicinity of residential buildings, which is the reason given for why the operation took so long.. Finally, we saw the commandos blow up the entire 3rd floor. Blowing up the floor would have blown up the hostages too. If it had to be done, why not much earlier?In the Taj operation, from reports, it is clear that the terrorists were moving from one floor to another to confuse the commandos. Were they hauling the ammunition around with them all the time? It was probably stored at convenient locations much in advance, which is why it must be the work of someone working in the Taj or a group of people separated in different rooms checked in as visitors.From the report of one of the witnesses, a large group of people were hiding in the lobby. Somewhere around 3 am 2 foreigners made a dash for the entrance and were shot right there. So the terrorists were manning the entrances from some point. Were there no commandos or anyone else in there till that late? Everyone was waiting for the NSG to arrive? Till then nothing?
Suraj wants to know: How come one terrorist was caught alive? Why was he not killed? Did he purposefully surrender to the police to say something which can twist the real story or to confuse the investigation?
Sujoy wants to know: The main issue to ponder over is that who is the "mastermind"? Who is paying money to the terrorists? Who is arranging the ammunition? Who is killing civilians (including Muslims) in the name of jihad? Who is the "big boss"? Is there anyone who would gain if there were a war or many pseudo-wars between the two neighboring countries? Who will make the highest profit out of all the mayhem?
Jitendra wants to know: Our navy is busting pirates in Somalia. Why can't they guard our domestic waterfront? It is a shame that we have so many warships and frigates stationed at Mumbai and still we couldn't stop this attack.There were more than 100 armed policemen at CST station and they couldn't take down 2-3 terrorists? Especially, the RPF which is equipped with automatic weapons. Can these police officials be dismissed for their inaction?
Rohini asks: If all the reconnaissance was done by a group of Pakistani nationals some time in the last 3 to 6 months, they must have been given visas to come to India, in which case there should be a record of the visas issued to those individuals. Is there going to be some attempt to match the faces of at least some of the terrorists killed with the photographs on the visa applications? Shouldn't there be a thorough probe into the killing of Hemant Karkare and his colleagues, given that certain political forces in the country had every reason to target the ATS chief and were actually issuing death threats to him?<./LI> The statements extracted so far from the lone captured terrorist are riddled with inconsistencies, for example, if they were planning to blow up the Taj, why did they have only 8 kg of RDX? The blast at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad involved no less than 600kg of RDX and TNT explosives! How can we trust anything that this particular source tells us about the actual events of the 26th night?
Phiroz wants to know: As per media reports the 'terrorists' were staying at the Taj and used Mauritian ID cards for check-in. My question is how did the Taj accept just an ID card for check-in formalities from an international guest? Hotels are supposed take a photocopy of an international guest's passport at check-in
Hemanshu wants to know: The residents of Cama hospital have informed about one lady accompanying the terrorists in a burqa when they stormed the hospital. Where is the lady now? Do the government or the security agencies know the lady's whereabouts? Or is it that the government wants to downplay the role of the lady? Can the government digest the theory that there were only 10 terrorists involved in the siege of Mumbai? Since the government has no clue do they want to hide the facts?
Deepak What the level of training and preparedness of the Mumbai Police? In the first hour itself the police lost there senior officers and after that it virtually accepted defeat giving command to the army and later to the NSG. No doubt, the policemen who died were brave, but that is a small consolation. What we look for is physically and mentally fit and intelligent officers like the army who fight with enemy but are trained for their survival.
Ranjit wants to know: The Alibag/Roha area in Raigad is a hotbed for smuggling activities and needs to be investigated as there is a likelihood that the operations may have been launched from there as its a short boat ride away from Ground Zero? Had this angle been looked into?
Karthik notes: It has been reported that a number of credit cards, that was a part of the terrorists's baggage, have been found. It is a simple matter to find out where the cards were issued from and the billing addresses to which the bills are sent. Has this been done? If so what are the findings?
Robert says: I am a resident of Colaba, staying just opposite the Nariman Building, and I am staying here for the past 30 years. I have friends from the local fishermen colony too. These local fishermen anchor their boats near the coast, which is close to our area. The first night when the terrorist took over Nariman House, I with a group of friends at around 12:30 am, were surprised to find only 5 policemen manning the lane, which leads to Nariman House. When we asked them "Where is the Force?" they said they were the only people sent. Later in the night we received information from local fishermen that a speed boat [one similar to the one which landed at Cuffe Parade] had approached during the night at about 02:00 am and when the fishermen questioned them, the speed boat took a u turn and disappeared in the dark. We immediately passed on the info to these policemen. To our surprise they said "What can we do?" We did not know what to do and then we got stuck for the next two days in our houses. My question is that in such a scenario who do we approach to give any information for verifying? What if there were two speed boats. It's still possible that they are out there or maybe they have landed at some other location. The threat is real. One bunch of terrorist from one boat created havoc. Can you imagine if there is a second group waiting somewhere?
Shekhar says: Being an ex -army officer I would like to know the following : The manner in which the militant attacked their targets and the tactics they had taken could not have been done by just Lashkar or Hizbul or any other militant organisation . They must have been trained by some one from the Pak army or ISI which is clear from the manner the entire attack was carried out as it was in the case of the Kargil war. Lashkar or Hizbul militants do not have the capability to hold the NSG for as long as the militants did. Who trained them?Who provided the extensive maps of Mumbai roads The roads of Colaba are so confusing even for people living in Mumbai . Who guided them through those roads and to target Leopold? How did the militants know that foreign guests visit Leopold ?Who provided them the logistical support for such a precise attack and from whom did they get the briefing about the targets?Why were policemen in and around Colaba not alerted and moved immediately to the site of the attack as then they would have engaged the militants on the roads with little cover for the latter and eliminated them instead of allowing them to reach the hotels and take up defensive positions?
Sainath notes: The whole plan of the terrorists as per news available was to complete their so-called mission and return home safely. If that is so, why did they fire indiscriminately? Definitely, this firing would not fulfill their goal. Without firing they could have kept the hostages in captive with so much ammunition they were possessing and do whatever they were intended to. Was it a pre-drill for a major operation? Were they testing the capability of our armed forces?The terrorist in captivity: Is he disclosing the total plan or diverting our attention?
Jess wants to know if the terrorists were circumcised.
Rahul notes: Besides very good knowledge of the terrain -- which a foreigner is unlikely to have despite very good recce work -- there are other things which indicate that at least some of these were locals. One terrorist reportedly spoke to one guest saying, "Your name sounds South Indian, are you a Brahmin". A Pakistani (or for that matter any foreigner) is unlikely to have knowledge of Indian names and the Hindu caste system. Does this indicate that at least some of them were locals?
Ethewald wants to know: All five star hotels have CCTV cameras; why were the terrorists not cornered and or flushed out by using the CCTV? Why was the hotels put into darkness? Should not instead the whole place be lit up so that the security forces be able to see the terrorists and civilians clearly; the terrorists want darkness to carry on, light exposes them, Why was the armed forces not provided logistics like dropping the commandos by helicopters and using helicopters to douse the flames and light up the building from outside so as to disorientate the terrorists.The terrorists are reported to have a return route planned, so why would they set up a control room as dismantling a control room would delay their escape and also leave behind clues?The terrorists are reported to have RDX with them, yet the only arms and ammunition used were grenades and AK-47 rifles; what was the purpose of the RDX and why was it left behind?The terrorists were fidayeen and so were prepared to die, then why did they leave behind such a large amount of ammunition and not blow themselves up with it and cause more damage?
Umakant wants to know: How come that the people who had made such meticulous planning could have erred in leaving so much evidence behind? I mean don't they and their bosses know that all telephone conversations are likely to be tapped and their game could be exposed even before it began. Unfortunately for India and even more unfortunately for all the victims of this dastardly act, these telephone conversations were tapped, but no action taken. This muddies the situation even further.
Caroline wants to know: As regards the only survivor of the Nariman House terror attack, the maid and the 2-year-old Jewish boy, it is surprising how the two managed to evade the terrorists. Has the maid been questioned? How long has the maid been working with the deceased Jewish rabbi's family?
Reji wants to know: Did they select this particular day because there was a day-night cricket match between India and England? Did they think this would help them land safely on the Mumbai coast as most people were glued to television?
Ravi wants to know: Has any of the government agencies set up a hotline/Web site to get leads?
Mayur wants to share some thoughts: Quite a few of the questions were regarding how the terrorists knew that the Chabad Centre was located there. They did a recce of the entire area. I suspect they had local support. During that recce, I am sure they would surely notice a rabbi (by the way he dresses and his outfit). Also, Google helps. Type 'jew+colaba' and if you sift through all the links about the terror attacks, you come to this link which would have been one of the first links to show up if they had typed the same BEFORE the terror attacks. This does mention that there are many Jews around Colaba.About how, after shooting down the three distinguished cops and the constables, they turned around from Cama hospital and went towards Metro, and the flyover onto Marine Drive without batting an eyelid -- I really think there is some local participation. Sleeper cells abound.The reason why they did not use RDX to blow up any location a la the Marriott in Islamabad -- they wanted to maximise damage by sustaining the assault for as long as possible. And they were well-trained, no doubt about that. All the hard work had been done by them. The ultimate plan was to indeed bomb the Taj once it had been destroyed completely and the 'operation' was over.How they got the ammo inside the hotels -- no hotel staff will check your suitcases (which, incidentally, are quite high in capacity) during the time of check-in. Hotels simply 'assume' that the bag has come straight from the airport/railway station. And they had US dollars. 'Atithi Devo Bhava' became 'Atithi Devil Bhava' How they got the ammo into the country -- a new Srivardhan? Querelle's question -- the US is already on high alert and they have already gotten threats from Al Qaeda.
Chinmay provides some answers: King c wants to know: The television visuals clearly showed Hemant Karkare wearing a helmet and a bullet-proof vest. How did he get hit in the chest? Response: It is said by different experts that the bullet-proof vests used by the Mumbai police and ATS is only able to stop bullets fired from small caliber weapons like hand .22 hand guns. These kinds of vests are vulnerable to high caliber automatic assault rifles like the Kalashnikov. Thus even with the bullet-proof vest, the late Mr Karkare was vulnerable to shots fired from a very close range.Vipin wants to know: We all know that the operation took time because the commandos were searching each and every room at the hotels and had no idea in which room the terrorists were hiding. Is it technically not feasible to tell how many people are there across the room with the help of some penetrating laser light etc? Response: There is no laser and infra red imaging device than can penetrate through solid walls or doors. X-Rays and Ultrasonic waves can penetrate solid obstructions but they need to be reflected back to the sensors in order to get an image, which was not possible there (unless you make a giant size X-ray sensor and place it outside to cover the entire building).Viraj wants to know: When a machine gun is sprayed normally the cops would have got hit by one bullet. How did Hemant Karkare have 3 shots in his chest? There is still no explanation on why he would remove his bullet-proof vest when he had worn it on live television? Response: A machine gun fires extensive amount of rounds/minute (as close as 600 rounds/minute) So it's very unlikely that even in burst (Let alone the fully automatic mode) mode only one bullet will hit the target. The fact that the late Mr Karkare was shot from a close range, makes it possible that he took 3 shots in his chest. Also the vest he was wearing was not designed to stop bullets fired from high caliber assault rifles. Only high tech multi layered composite bullet-proof jackets, made of different composite layers of Polyethylene, Steel and Ceramic plates, can stop assault rifle hits to some extent.Trisha wants to know: If the Taj had central AC, why didn't anybody think of blowing in anesthetic gas to tranquilise all and then take charge of the whole building? The number of lives lost and damage could have been much less. Response: This kind of solution is only possible in movies. In reality to fill the entire building with anesthetic gas that can actually tranquilize they would have needed probably 50 tanker trucks filled with gas, and this alone would have taken more time than the entire operation's time span. Also, since the buildings were not air tight, the gas could have escaped on the streets affecting un-masked people around.Nilesh wants to know: In the Nariman House operation, it was pretty clear that there were hostages and it was located within the vicinity of residential buildings, which is the reason given for why the operation took so long.. Finally, we saw the commandos blow up the entire 3rd floor. Blowing up the floor would have blown up the hostages too. If it had to be done, why not much earlier? Response: Despite some of the media outlets claims the commandoes did not blow the entire 3rd floor apart. They can't do that anyway. What we have seen on the television is a controlled explosion intended to rip only the window grills apart to make a clear space for commandoes and/or snipers. They also blown a hole into the wall to make a way into the floor.
Sony wants to know: If Chinese-made grenades were found at the hotel, who gave the terrorists Chinese made grenades? Who assisted them to get these grenades and where did they get it?Which agency is involved in it? Directly getting Chinese made grenades will be difficult for a normal terrorist.
Jayesh wants to know: What quantity of RDX was brought by these terrorists? Has of all of it been detained?
AKG wants to know: I have three questions based on what I have read in The Hindu: Security. One gentleman -- a senior CBDT member -- who survived the Taj attack says: "The other thing I noticed this time -- you see, I go there every other month. The last time I went, last month, there was very tight security. You could not get into the [Taj] Palace. There is an entrance there which is closed. At the entrance to the tower, they had two-level security. First, when you enter the open parking, where the cars are parked, you had a very heavy metal frame, your baggage was searched, and then you went. At the entrance of the foyer, there was another metal detector and you were personally searched and so on. This time I noticed it had gone. We could go straight to the Palace." How could this happen if 5-star hotels were asked to beef up security days before the attack? Who gave the orders to reduce the security levels, and why? Source: http://www.hindu.com/2008/11/29/stories/2008112955911700.htmThe same gentleman (and many others) say that once they came out, their identities were not checked and verified. They and their bags were not searched. "I asked the fireman, 'Do you think I can?' He said, 'Don't worry. Take the bag,' and asked me to come." "And immediately [after I got down] they said: 'Don't stay here. Take cover behind the parked fire engines and then keep going.' Along the side of the Gateway of India, there is a ledge with a sitting place. Everybody was asked to go and sit there ż a large number of people." Why were the persons not screened at all? How many terrorists would have walked off (with ammunition and arms) posing as guests? Source: http://www.hindu.com/2008/11/29/stories/2008112955911700.htmThe Hindu reports that "Three Lashkar fidayeen captured. Police sources said an injured terrorist captured during the fighting at the Taj Mahal hotel was tentatively identified as Ajmal Amir Kamal. Highly-placed police sources said two other Pakistani nationals had also been held in the course of intense fighting on Thursday. All three, the sources said, identified themselves as members of a Lashkar fidayeen squad." One of them was Ajmal. What about the other two? Source: http://www.hindu.com/2008/11/28/stories/2008112862080100.htm
Anuradha wants to know: There have been reports that a member of the kitchen staff called home as he was dying and reportedly said that he had been betrayed by someone he had helped get a job in the hotel's kitchen. If the terrorists had been interns, how come no member of the staff recognised them? Were the photographs of the other slain terrorists shown to the staff of the hotels to ensure that none of them had interned there?If the terrorists or their accomplices had stashed away ammunition in the hotel earlier, signs could be still detected if a search were made. Has it been done?Even if Google Earth gave them pictures of the city, it could not have shown them the one ways and landmarks to make them move at the speed they seem to have done. They are supposed to have taken taxis -- how? At gunpoint? Stolen them? As for layouts and structural details, I wonder if they were readily available. I am going by my limited experience of smaller industrial establishments and new residential colonies. Nobody has a layout map of even the essentials like the electrical and drainage/sewage lines.
Sarathy wants to know: Why couldn't the NSG fox the terrorists inside the Taj using the television channels? They could've strategically shown something on television and done something else. Like sending forces of 10 men to each floor on say the west side of the building through ropes/ladders and then showing the same images on television after 30 minutes or an hour. This could have attracted the terrorists to the west side making them easy targets when they got there. Are we short on imagination in an operation like this?
Fahad says I am a Pakistani and want to ask: If indeed the terrorists came from Karachi, traveling 500 nautical miles on a boat which cannot have traveled at more than 10 miles an hour, they would have spent 50 hours inside Indian waters. They would have to go through the range of 21 radars installed for maritime security. An ordinary fisherman is arrested as soon as he even strays into disputed waters. How could the trawler used by these terrorists not have been detected by an enormous surveillance infrastructure despite spending 50 hours in Indian waters? Further, they would have to cross the oil fields located 70 or so nautical miles north of Bombay which are heavily secured and protected. They would somehow have to navigate through not only an intricate surveillance system but also avoid a huge presence of the Indian naval east command. Is this easily believable?
Gangadhar wants to know: why the hotels didn't have fire suppression systems --like water sprinkler systems which spray water once it detects fire? This could have also made ineffective the arms and ammunitions which the terrorist were using?