Transcript: Mumbai gunmen were commanded by phone


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NEW DELHI – "We have three foreigners, including women," the gunman said into the phone.

The response was brutally simple: "Kill them." Gunshots then rang out inside the Mumbai hotel, followed by cheering that could be heard over the phone.

The ruthless exchange comes from a transcript of phone calls Indian authorities say they intercepted during the November Mumbai attacks. They were part of a dossier of evidence New Delhi handed Pakistan this week that it says definitively proves that the siege was launched from across the border.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday that he did not believe the gunmen were acting alone, and Pakistani state agencies must have had a hand in the attacks.

The dossier made no mention of any Pakistani officials or agencies.

Pakistani authorities are reviewing the evidence but have dismissed Singh's claims. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani accused India of waging a "media and diplomatic offensive against Pakistan."

"It is clearly unhelpful to any serious and objective investigations and amounts to unnecessarily whipping up tensions in South Asia," Gilani said.

But Pakistani Information Minister Sherry Rehman did say Wednesday that the lone surviving gunman was a Pakistani citizen, after weeks of refusing to confirm Delhi's claims. Islamabad had previously said it could not find Ajmal Kasab — the only one of 10 not killed as commandos ended the siege — in its databases.

Pakistan's young civilian administration has said terrorism is a major challenge facing the country, and in recent weeks it has taken steps against groups alleged linked to the Mumbai attacks, including a charity that the U.N. branded as a front for the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India says carried out the assault.

At the same time, Pakistan has reacted angrily to some of India's rhetoric — denying any state institutions played a role and repeatedly demanding its longtime rival provide evidence to help Pakistan pursue suspects in the legal system.

Indian leaders have made clear they do not want a military conflict with Pakistan, and Pakistan's intelligence chief said there will be no war over the Mumbai attacks.

"We may be crazy in Pakistan, but not completely out of our minds," Pakistan's intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, told German news magazine Der Spiegel. "We know full well that terror is our enemy, not India."

Predominantly Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan have fought three wars against each other since they gained independence in 1947.

The Mumbai transcripts, which were translated into English by Indian authorities and obtained by the newspaper The Hindu, show that the gunmen who carried out the attacks were in close contact with their handlers throughout the siege. India says the handlers directing the attacks that left 164 dead were senior leaders of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group.

The handlers told a team of gunmen who had seized a Jewish center to shoot hostages if necessary.

"If you are still threatened, then don't saddle yourself with the burden of the hostages. Immediately kill them," he said.

Six Jewish foreigners, including a rabbi and his wife, were killed inside the Jewish center.

Later in the night, nearly 24 hours after the attacks began, the handlers urged the gunmen to "be strong in the name of Allah"

"Brother, you have to fight. This is a matter of prestige of Islam," the handler said. "You may feel tired or sleepy, but the commandos of Islam have left everything behind, their mothers, their fathers."

The gunmen were told several times not to kill any Muslim hostages.

The attackers used several different mobile phones, including those belonging to the hostages. Shortly after the siege began, Indian authorities say they began intercepting calls from inside the hotel. They were also able to pick up calls carried over the Internet, which the handlers used to route some calls, according to the dossier.

The siege lasted nearly three days, far longer than security experts said it should have, and, apparently, far longer than the terrorists expected as well. The handlers told the gunmen on Nov. 27 that "the operation has to be concluded tomorrow morning." But it was 36 more hours before it finished.

Much of the dialogue has a teacher-student dynamic, and indeed, the surviving gunman has said he and the rest of the group were trained by Lashkar in Pakistan.

"We made a big mistake," one of the gunman says into the phone in the early hours of the siege.

"What big mistake?"

"When we were getting into the boat ... another boat came. Everyone jumped quickly. In this confusion, the satellite phone of Ismail got left behind." The investigation shows the gunmen entered Mumbai, which sits on the Arabian sea, by a rubber dinghy.

The attacks against iconic Mumbai targets were covered nonstop by news channels around the world. The handlers used the TV reports to guide the gunmen, the dossier says, including warning when commandos roped down to the Jewish center from helicopters.

The dossier included photographs of dozens of items recovered in the attacks, including GPS units, mobile phones, guns, and explosives, as well as data gleaned from satellite phones, and details from the interrogation of the lone surviving gunman.

It also had pictures of more mundane items India calls incriminating because they were made in Pakistan, including pickles, detergent, a match box, tissue paper, a Mountain Dew bottle, shaving cream and a towel.

But the strongest — and most chilling — evidence that the gunmen were not acting alone came from the phone transcripts.

"Keep your phone switched on," a handler said in the midst of the siege, "so that we can hear the gunfire."

India is the biggest victim of terror ... more so than any of us here.
Real sorry about the things that happened.
If they ever catch the handlers, they need to hand them over to the families of the people killed. Lets get Old Testament on them. Stoning would be an appropriate punishment.