I just can't seem to let go my anxiety about terrorists capable of spewing bullets indiscriminately and running around loose. A part of me has been alert all through this crisis to be reassured that all these guys are out of action. No luck. Not even sure how many they are.
How many are they really? All kinds of conflicting information from the interview on the one guy in hand - Ajmal Amir Kasab/Qasad/Qasab. When it came to Qasab, Mumbai went bonkers - right from the man on the street, media, cops, army officials, intelligence people......
- Kasab told the police that he and 9 others got off a vessel about 10 nautical miles from Mumbai and shifted to two boats hijacked from fishermen and names the other nine.
- The same news (as above, in a different source) mentions the "a source in the ATS familiar with the details of the interrogation quoted him saying that in all 16 fidayeens came to Mumbai on Wednesday."
- The same news from yet another source mentions 39 colleagues who were given the impression that they would return after causing the mayhem in India.
- While the earlier articles mention the groups splitting into batches of 5, another one speaks of a more likely four to Taj, and two each to CST, Nariman House and Oberoi.
While names and distribution details are available for only these 10 Kasab names, the number of terrorists killed/captured and "batches of 5" rather than "split into two groups" makes me think that the "16 fidayeen" from the ATS source, or "39 colleagues" from one version of Kasab's interview could be likely true.
How many were killed? Take a look at this timeline(1) - all data from this unless linked specifically.
Wednesday 26th November 2008:
- Taj: NDTV reported (also mentioned in the timeline) on the 26th Nov that seven terrorists had been killed at the Taj earlier.
Thursday 27th November 2008:
- Mumbai in general: "11.51 am: Five terrorists killed and one captured in Mumbai, says Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil outside Oberoi Hotel." couldn't possibly refer to the Taj guys, as the one captured was at Girgaum and five is less than seven, so it isn't an inclusive number either.
- Nariman House: "12.39 pm: One terrorist holed up inside Nariman House in south Mumbai killed, says police. Six more ultras suspected to be inside the building."
- Taj: "4.25 pm: A terrorist has been reportedly killed in Taj hotel. Reports say that commandos have started barging into the rooms of the hotel."
- Taj: "8.00 pm: 4 more terrorists killed at the Taj. Another mammoth explosion in the Oberoi, starts huge fire."
Friday 28th November 2008:
- Oberoi: "12.50 am: One terrorist killed at Oberoi, one still remaining."
- Oberoi: "11:12 am: Two terrorists reported to be killed inside Trident-Oberoi hotel." <-- this could simply be an update from the earlier one killed one remaining.
- Oberoi: "12.10 pm: Terrorist reportedly killed in crossfire at Trident-Oberoi." <--- same one?
- Nariman House: "7.40 pm: Two terrorists killed in Nariman House."
Saturday 29th November 2008:
- Taj: "8.32 am: The 59-hour siege of old Taj Hotel ends. Last terrorist killed" Followed by "8.42 am: Four terrorists killed at Taj Hotel; number of other dead and injured there still to be ascertained, says Mumbai Police Commissioner Hassan Gafoor." and "8.49 am: Director General of National Security Guards, J K Dutt, briefs media, tells three terrorists killed in the latest operation at Taj Hotel." <--- is it four or three?
Oberoi is the easiest with the different reports probably translating into two terrorists being there and killed.
Nariman seems to have three - one killed on Thursday and two on Friday.
Taj is more complex with 7 terrorists killed on the 26th (wednesday) + one and four (assuming the later number includes the earlier reported "one") so counting it as four and not five (thursday) + the final four (saturday) = 15 in all.
The five killed and one captured that the CM speaks about, I don't know what to do with. I know one got killed and one captured in Girgaum. No clue on the other four. Seems unlikely that they were killed in other places and not reported, so one possibility is that the 7 thought killed at Taj on the previous day were actually 4 (someone teach people how to count)
This article brings more clarity:
"The terrorists were challenged by security men near the CST railway station - the heart of the Indian Railways. One terrorist was killed and another nabbed near the metro junction.
Five other terrorists were killed - two each at Taj Hotel and Chowpatty and one at Nariman House, he added."
However, there is no mention of seven terrorists killed in this article.
More confusion here.
Coming to the "summary" statements of this episode, we have "Describing the mission as successful, the NSG sources said that 11 terrorists have been killed in the mission and one has been caught alive." The one alive is a no brainer, but the eleven killed? Shouldn't that number be higher? Or, who died when terrorists were reported killed in some instances?
How many were captured?
- "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." from 3 Lashkar fidayeen captured
- The mysterious 9 or so? with British passports and Pakistanis of British origin? They don't seem to appear on the action timeline, so information is quite vague.
- Who is responsible for the taxi blasts? The cops think that the bombs were planted in the taxis used by the terrorists to prevent information about them wrecking their plans, but that doesn't explain the reports of grenades being hurled in Santa Cruz - planted bombs don't hurl grenades..... right? Or were those reports rumors?
- If only 10 terrorists entered Mumbai hours before the attack, who in the world booked the room 630 in the Taj, stocked ammo and got visitors for four days? Kasab seems to be the source for both stories. He has a split personality?
All in all, I'm confused, and watching the media for more information.
Update: The media reporting on this incident is a monument in incompetence. matched only by the CWG reporting two years later.