Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, o.b.m.
Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, o.b.m.Israel news photo: (Chabad.org)

A small Jewish toddler was orphaned in Mumbai last November amid a reign of terror carried out for the "prestige of Islam," according to a transcript of phone calls (see below) between the terrorists and their handlers published this week in an Indian newspaper.

The terrorists murdered six Jews during the multi-pronged attack which began November 26, 2008 and ended in a river of blood at the Nariman Chabad House and additional locales. The three-day slaughter, which took the lives of dozens of others elsewhere in Mumbai, India as well, also carried the additional goal of damaging relations between Israel and India, as expressed by the handlers from Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based terrorist group.

The team of 10 terrorists struck the CST Railway Station, the Leopold Café, the Taj Hotel, the Oberoi Trident Hotel and the Nariman House Jewish Center, also known as the Chabad House. Among the 165 civilians and security personnel who were killed in the attack were 26 foreign nationals; 304 others were wounded as well.

‘Prestige of Islam’

The transcripts, translated into English by Indian authorities, were obtained by the newspaper The Hindu. They showed that the terrorists were in constant contact with their leaders back home and received ongoing encouragement, guidance and support throughout the three-day siege. The attackers were told their actions, and their deaths, would uphold the "prestige of Islam."

Israeli citizens Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, who was pregnant at the time, were both brutally murdered, along with four other Jewish guests. The couple’s two-year-old son Moishe survived and escaped in the arms of his Indian nanny, who fled together with the building’s handyman. Moishe and his nanny were later brought by Rivka’s parents to live in Israel. According to the dossier, police rescued 14 persons from the Chabad House during the operation.

The two terrorists who manned the siege at the Nariman Chabad House were coached through the process by telephone while their handlers watched the events unfold on television, according to the first folder of the dossier:

“Throughout the operations, the terrorists received instructions over telephone from their controllers. The controllers warned the terrorists about the use of helicopters and about the landing of commandos on the terrace…. The police recovered two Kalashnikov rifles, four magazines, three pistols, about 250 live rounds of ammunition, four mobile phones and one GPS instrument.”

The transcripts of the phone conversations picked up by Indian authorities during the terror attack, as published in The Hindu, follow. All were recorded on November 27, 2008.

Taj Mahal Hotel

0108 hours

Pakistan caller:
How many hostages do you have?

Mumbai terrorist: We have one from Belgium. We have killed him. There was one chap from Bangalore. He could be controlled only with a lot of effort.

Pakistan caller: I hope there is no Muslim amongst them?

Mumbai terrorist: No, none.

0126 hours

Pakistan caller: Are you setting the fire or not?

Mumbai terrorist: Not yet. I am getting a mattress ready for burning.

Pakistan caller: What did you do with the dead body [on the boat]?

Mumbai terrorist: Left it behind.

Pakistan caller: Did you not open the locks for the water below? [Thought to be a pre-arranged plan to sink the vessel.]

Mumbai terrorist: No, they did not open the locks. We left it like that because of being in a hurry. We made a big mistake.

Pakistan caller: What big mistake?

Mumbai terrorist: When we were getting into the boat, the waves were quite high. Another boat came. Everyone raised an alarm that the Navy had come. Everyone jumped quickly. In this confusion, the satellite phone of Ismail got left behind.

0137 hours

Pakistan caller: The ATS (Anti-Terrorist Squad) chief has been killed. Your work is very important. Allah is helping you. The Vazir (Minister) should not escape. Try to set the place on fire.

Mumbai terrorist: We have set fire in four rooms.

Pakistan caller: People shall run helter skelter when they see the flames. Keep throwing a grenade every 15 minutes or so. It will terrorize.

0310 hours

Mumbai terrorist:

Pakistan caller: Greetings! There are three ministers and one secretary of the cabinet in your hotel. We don’t know in which room.

Mumbai terrorist: Oh! That is good news! It is the icing on the cake.

Pakistan caller: Find those three, four persons and then get whatever you want from India.

Mumbai terrorist: Pray that we find them.

Pakistan caller: Do one thing. Throw one or two grenades on the Navy and police teams, which are outside.

Mumbai terrorist: Sorry. I simply can’t make out where they are.

Oberoi Trident Hotel

0353 hours

Pakistan caller 1:
Brother Abdul. The media is comparing your action to 9/11. One senior police official has been killed.

Mumbai terrorist 1: We are on the 10th/11th floor. We have five hostages.

Pakistan caller 2: Everything is being recorded by the media. Inflict the maximum damage. Keep fighting. Don’t be taken alive.

Pakistan caller 1: Kill all hostages, except the two Muslims. Keep your phone switched on so that we can hear the gunfire.

Mumbai terrorist 2: We have three foreigners, including women. From Singapore and China.

Pakistan caller 1: Kill them.

(Voices of gunmen can be heard directing hostages to stand in a line, and telling two Muslims to stand aside. Sound of gunfire. Sound of cheering voices.)

Nariman House

1945 hours

Mumbai terrorist:
Greetings! What did the Major-General say?

Pakistan caller: Greetings. The Major-General directed us to do what we like. We should not worry. The operation has to be concluded tomorrow morning. Pray to God. Keep two magazines and three grenades aside, and expend the rest of your ammunition.

Pakistan caller: 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.

Mumbai terrorist: Yes, we shall do accordingly, God willing.

Pakistan caller: The army claims to have done the work without any hostage being harmed. 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.

Mumbai terrorist: So be it, God willing.

Pakistan caller: Stay alert.

2226 hours

Pakistan caller: 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. You may feel tired or sleepy but the Commandos of Islam have left everything behind. Their mothers, their fathers, their homes. Brother, you have to fight for the victory of Islam. Be strong.

Mumbai terrorist: Amen!

Dossier Handed to Islamabad

The transcripts are part of the three-part dossier of evidence handed over by New Delhi to the Pakistani government this week as proof that the siege emanated from within its borders, a claim previously denied by Islamabad.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reiterated Tuesday, as officials had said for months, that the terrorists could not have been acting alone.

Pakistani Information Minister Sherry Rehman acknowledged Wednesday in response that Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the single surviving terrorist, was indeed a Pakistani citizen. The admission comes after months of hedging by Islamabad, which claimed it could not locate in its databases the only one of the 10 terrorists not killed by Indian commandos during the siege.

Indian officials recovered a fishing trawler that had been hijacked from its Indian owner by the terrorists, as well as GPS instruments, a satellite phone, an 11-seat dinghy and various other articles, which they documented as evidence in the investigation.