Two Americans were among the 160 confirmed killed in the Mumbai terrorist attacks, according to Reuters. Alan Scherr and his 13-year-old daughter, Naomi, part of a meditation group called the Synchronicity Foundation centered in Virginia, were among those killed. The Foundation also reported on their website that at least four members of their organization have been wounded.
There were also reports that British intelligence – MI5 and MI6 – and Scotland Yard have been on the ground in Mumbai since Thursday to aid in the investigation into just who the terrorists are and with what other groups or organizations they might be affiliated. British involvement comes after reports that at least two of the terrorists may have actually been British nationals.
As for the ongoing terrorist situation itself, there still seems to be at least one terrorist at large in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, a location that has been said to be “cleared” of terrorists several times over the past two days. Several explosions and gunfire have been heard inside the Taj Mahal in the past few hours. It is unclear as yet if there are still any hostages involved. All other locations targeted by the synchronized and coordinated terrorist attacks in Mumbai are reported by Indian authorities to be secured.
Nearly 48 hours ago, on Wednesday evening in Mumbai, India, an as yet unknown number of terrorists (estimated at more than 24) came ashore on small boats on the city’s coast. The terrorists then fanned out through the city, attacking at least ten specific targets and causing as much chaos and confusion as possible at many other locations. Among the targeted locations were Mumbai landmarks, such as the 105-year-old Taj Mahal Hotel, the Oberoi Hotel, the Leopold Café, and Mumbai’s largest railway station.
Authorities, experts and analysts are maintaining that the group claiming responsibility, the Deccan Mujahideen, if indeed it is an indigenous terrorist group, has strong ties with other international groups and has taken an al Qaeda-like methodology in carrying out its attacks. Initial reports indicate that Indian and other intelligence services had never heard of the Deccan Mujahideen, which normally tends to rule international terrorist involvement.
CNN reported that Alan Scherr, the Synchronicity Foundation’s chief writer and programmer, and his daughter were killed in a restaurant in the Oberoi Hotel.
As yet, the Deccan Mujahideen have expressed no demands, as is usually the case in hostage situations. The have not issued any formal political statement. Nor has there been a defined goal or objective defined by detained or captured gunmen, leaving media outlets, Indian authorities, and various intelligence and terrorism experts speculating as to intent.
But what is known, as gathered by eyewitnesses and various experts, is that targets were chosen because of their high-profile notice-ability both within India and internationally. Hostages and living targets were chosen, aside from the indiscriminate gunfire that was used to promote confusion, due to their nationality and religion. Terrorists were heard to ask specifically for British and Americans when rounding up hostages at the Taj Mahal and Oberoi Hotels.
One of the targets was the ultra-orthodox Jewish Chabad House, where a hostage situation resulted in the death of two terrorists and five hostages, including Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife. According to the Jerusalem Post, the couple’s son was rescued by his nanny when she secreted the child from the Chabad House Thursday, November 27. He will turn two years old on Saturday.
The Deccan Mujahideen, although an hitherto unknown terrorist group, is believed to be a splinter or front group of the India Mujahideen, which is a domestic Indian Islamic militant group.