Mumbai attackers ‘were ordered by phone to kill’

Militants who attacked Mumbai were urged to kill their hostages in cold blood and fight to the death in the name of Islam, according to transcripts of intercepted telephone calls made public on Wednesday.

In one exchange, one of the two attackers who stormed the luxury Oberoi-Trident hotel was told to “inflict the maximum damage” and to “kill all hostages, except the two Muslims” they were holding.

“We have three foreigners, including women,” the attacker identified as Fahadullah said.

“Kill them. Keep your phone switched on so that we can hear the gunfire,” he was told.

The transcript then said the two attackers were heard to tell the two Muslims to step aside and order the hostages to stand in a line. Gunfire was heard, then cheering.

Details of the attackers’ conversations, allegedly with their six “Pakistan-based handlers”, are contained in a dossier of evidence that India says “unmistakenly” points to elements in Pakistan being behind the attacks.

The document, obtained by the Hindu, an English-language newspaper, puts the official death toll at 165 civilians and security personnel — two more than previously — plus nine of the 10 attackers.

It also lists items recovered after the attacks, including Pakistan-made weapons and global positioning systems with coordinates of a sea route from off south-east Pakistan, as well as Pakistani washing powder and shaving cream.

Much of the detail has emerged piecemeal since the 60-hour siege ended on November 29, including claims that the banned Pakistan-based Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) trained and equipped the militants and financed the operation.

Islamabad has angrily rejected allegations from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the attacks had the support of some “official agencies” and that Pakistan used terrorism as an “instrument of state policy”.

India’s Defence Minister, AK Anthony, maintained the pressure on Wednesday, expressing concern that there was “no serious attempt” to disband the 30 “terror outfits” that were working across the border.

The head of Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, earlier told Der Spiegel magazine in an interview that it was fighting terrorism, not India.

“We may be crazy in Pakistan, but not completely out of our minds. We know full well that terror is our enemy, not India,” he was quoted as saying in the German publication’s online edition.

He also rejected claims that ISI-sponsored Pakistani groups were behind the attacks, accusing India of giving them “nothing, no names, no numbers, no connections”.

The dossier — a 13-page summary and 50 pages of supporting documents — contains phone numbers and email addresses allegedly linked to LeT commanders.

According to the transcript, one of the two attackers at the Nariman House Jewish cultural centre was told: “Brother, you have to fight. This is a matter of prestige of Islam.

“Fight so that your fight becomes a shining example. Be strong in the name of Allah … Brother, you have to fight for the victory of Islam. Be strong.”

A separate call added: “Keep in mind that the hostages are of use only as long as you do not come under fire because of their safety.

“If you are still threatened, then don’t saddle yourself with the burden of the hostages, immediately kill them.”

The caller went on: “If the hostages are killed, it will spoil relations between India and Israel.”

An attacker replied: “So be it, God willing.”

Five hostages, including a rabbi and his wife, were later found dead with the two militants. — AFP

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