New Images Of Mumbai Terror

(Mumbai Mirror, Sebastian D'souza)
Indian authorities have released CCTV images from inside the massive train station attacked last week in Mumbai.

We've already seen stills from this location, shots of two gunmen, one apparently very young, but at ease with his weapons.

These images show people scattering, and then, as the concourse clears, the two gunmen
(CCTV)
can be seen sheltering behind a barrier at the end of a train platform.

Uniformed police, some of them holding what appear to be rifles, take cover behind a pillar. One gunman moves off screen to the right. The second advances, holding his automatic weapon on his hip, firing as he moves.

The police can be seen trying to peer around the pillar. They fire one rifle shot.

An officer runs towards the camera, and second later, returns to the frame, this time with a revolver in his hand. He fires. Other officers step out from behind the pillar, and seem to engage both gunmen.

(CCTV)
A second set of images shows what happened inside station cafes. People turn, their heads snapping around, probably at the first sounds of gunfire. There is confusion, puffs of smoke from fired rounds slamming into furniture, striking off metal serving tables. Customers and staff dive for the floor, others run past, holding their hands over their ears. In a corner of one frame, dozens of frantic commuters can be seen fleeing. Dozens died in the train station, and many more were wounded.

The gunman most visible in these frames is Ajmal Amir Qasab, the only surviving terrorist, aged 21. He was captured in a shoot-out at a police road block close to a crowded beach, popular in the evenings with families. A crowd is seen shouting and beating him as he lay in the street, as police try to restore order.

While the Indian government is demanding Pakistan crack down, hard, on its militant groups, investigate links between the attack and its intelligence agency, and handover twenty wanted militants, India is also having to answer more questions about warnings received and ignored, as public outrage grows.

Ten months ago, in March 2008, Indian police arrested Fahim Ahmed Ansari, a one time stationary manufacturer recruited by Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2003. He was arrested with two Pakistanis, suspected of planning an attack on Mumbai's Stock Exchange. He told his interrogators last spring that he had also carried out reconnaissance of both of the luxury hotels attacked last week.

In September, acting on information which also came from Ansari, India's Intelligence Bureau ( the domestic security agency roughly equivalent to Britain's MI5) issued alerts to other Indian agencies, including police and coastguard, warning that Lashkar-e-Taiba was preparing to attack waterfront targets in Mumbai. The Taj Mahal Hotel sits right on the waterfront, immediately adjacent to the Gateway to India. Eyewitnesses say the terrorists used the steps from water level up to the Gateway to enter the city.

The head of one of the local fishermen's unions says he told government officials four months ago that militants were using sea routes to smuggle explosives into Mumbai, information that he claims was ignored and never acted upon.

A senior US intelligence source told CBS news that in mid-October, India was warned by the U.S. of terrorist plots against hotels in Mumbai. The U.S. had received intelligence that Lashkar-e-Taiba cells had been engaged in reconnaissance.

Ratan Tata, the owner of the Taj hotel has said that following warnings of possible terror attacks, security was improved at the hotel. But by the time the attacks took place, those security measures were no longer in operation, and according to Tata, because they affected only the front of the hotel, would not have helped staff stop gunmen from entering. The terrorists came into the hotel from the back.

In November, India's foreign intelligence service, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) issued a series of warnings of possible attacks targeting Mumbai. According to a senior intelligence source who has seen the document, the latest warning, issued on November 18, talked of the threat of "an imminent assault" on Mumbai by the "sea wing" of Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Michael Clarke, the director of the Royal United Services Institute in London and a counter-terror analyst told CBS News, "there's a lot of evidence the Mumbai authorities had warnings, that the city authorities had warnings, the hotels had warnings." But, he added "one of the problems is that they had so many warnings that they didn't know which ones to take seriously."

According to a leaked account, Qasab has told police interrogators that 24 men trained for the operation in Pakistan based camps run by the banned militant group Lashkar-e- Taiba. Only ten terrorists (nine dead, and one captured alive) are accounted for. Some police sources say that on an abandoned fishing trawler, hijacked by the terrorists to take them close to Mumbai, they found fifteen winter jackets, fifteen toothbrushes and other supplies, strongly suggesting there may be a continuing threat from five terrorists, whereabouts unknown.
  • Sheila MacVicar

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