The Pakistan-based handlers of the Mumbai terrorists ordered the murders of civilians over the phone and cheered after hearing the gunfire, according to the dossier of evidence India provided to the Pakistani government.
The documents, obtained by the Indian newspaper The Hindu, provide a cold, calculating, and chilling look at the masterminds behind the late November military-style assault on the Indian financial capital of Mumbai. More than 170 people were killed and hundreds wounded during the 60-hour terror spree that shut down the city. The Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based terror group allied with al Qaeda and supported by powerful elements within Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the military, carried out the attack.
Six Pakistani handlers monitored the news coverage from Mumbai and kept in constant touch with the terrorists holed up in Nariman House and the Taj Mahal and Trident hotels during the three-day siege. The handlers are identified as Zarar, Kafa, Wassi, Jundal, Buzurg, and “Major General.”
Zarar has been identified as Zarar Shah, the Lashkar-e-Taiba communications expert who set up the network that allowed the Mumbai terrorists to speak with Lashkar-e-Taiba commanders in Pakistan during the attack. He also served as a key liaison between the terror group and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Zarar is currently in Pakistani custody and has admitted to his role in the Mumbai attacks.
The identities of the other handlers have not been provided, but India has accused elements within Pakistan’s intelligence service and the military of supporting the attack. The identification of one handler as “Major General” implies the involvement of a current or former military officer. The Inter-Services Intelligence agency is a branch of the Pakistani military. The ISI chief and Army corps commanders achieve the rank of Major General or Lieutenant General.
A senior US military intelligence official familiar with the dossier said that the “Major General” is indeed Hamid Gul, the retired former chief of the ISI. “It’s Gul,” the official told The Long War Journal. “This is why the US is trying to get him on the UN list of terrorists.” In December 2008 the US attempted to get Hamid Gul and other former military and intelligence officials added to the UN list of designated terrorists but has so far been rebuffed.
The Pakistan-based handlers provided real-time intelligence and directed the terrorists to kill specific hostages.
The exchange between Mumbai terrorists Fahadullah and Abdul Rehman operating at the Trident Hotel and their Pakistani handlers provides a terrifying look at the thinking of the masterminds behind the attack. The exchange shows they planned and executed the attack for maximum media coverage, ordered the murder of hostages, and cheered after the murders were carried out.
“Brother Abdul. The media is comparing your action to 9/11,” one unidentified handler said. “One senior police official has been killed,” the handler said, referring to the chief of the Anti-Terrorism Squad killed in an earlier gunfight.
“We are on the10th/11th floor,” Abdul Rehman responded. “We have five hostages.”
“Everything is being recorded by the media,” the handler identified as Kafa told Rehman. “Inflict the maximum damage. Keep fighting. Don’t be taken alive.”
“Kill all hostages, except the two Muslims,” the other handler told Rehman and Fahadullah. “Keep your phone switched on so that we can hear the gunfire.”
“We have three foreigners, including women,” Fahadullah said. “From Singapore and China.”
“Kill them,” the handler said.
According to the dossier, Abdul Rehman and Fahadullah are recorded ordering all of the hostages except for two Muslims to stand in line. The terrorists then shot and killed the hostages.
The handlers are heard cheering in the background. Kafa then orders the Trident-based terrorists to “find the way to go downstairs.”
In another exchange, also during the early morning of November 27, one of the terrorists operating from the Taj informed his handler that senior Indian political leaders were in the hotel. The handler excitedly orders the terrorist to find them.
“There are three ministers and one secretary of the cabinet in your hotel. We don’t know in which room,” a handler said.
“Oh! That is good news,” a terrorist responded.
“It is the icing on the cake! Find those 3-4 persons and then get whatever you want from India,” the handler said.
“Pray that we find them,” the terrorist responded.
In a separate call, also to the Taj-based terrorists, the handler reiterates the importance of finding the ministers and orders the terrorists to set the hotel ablaze.
“Your work is very important,” the handler said. “Allah is helping you. The wazir (Indian minister) should not escape. Try and set the place on fire.”
In the early evening of November 27, the handler identified as Wassi instructs the terrorists at Nariman House to kill the hostages as soon as they become a “burden” and hoped to create a diplomatic row between Israel and India. Nariman House is an orthodox Jewish center.
“Keep in mind that hostages are of use only as long as you do not come under fire because of their safety,” Wassi said. “If you are still threatened, then don’t saddle yourself with the burden of the hostages. Immediately kill them.”
“The [Indian] Army claims to have done the work without any hostage being harmed,” Wassi then said, referring to the commandos deployed to rescue the hostages. “Another thing: Israel has made a request through diplomatic channels to save the hostages. If the hostages are killed, it will spoil relations between India and Israel.”
“So be it, God willing,” one of the terrorist at Nariman House responded.