By Ashok Malik
Survivors testified at the Delhi sessions of the 10-month trial that revealed details of the attacks, which killed 166 people, including 26 Americans.
On Nov. 26, 2008, four terrorists armed with AK-47s and grenades stormed multiple locations in Mumbai:
The city’s landmark Taj Mahal Hotel (with a capacity of 1,200)
Sandy Pinto, the manager of the hotel’s 19th floor restaurant, was one of the first to take on the attackers.
“These gentlemen came in and they immediately started firing,” Pinto testified. “One bullet hit me above my left shoulder and it had twisted. There was blood and I didn’t have a wound.”
Pinto was pulled away by a police officer, who used a blanket to cover him and two wounded colleagues before paramedics arrived.
Pinto said a soldier went into the floor to search for explosives. The men were carefully checking every corner of the hotel, he said.
At least two explosives exploded inside the hotel. Another four in different locations of the Taj.
In all, 14 bombs went off in about three hours.
Pinto was first evacuated to a police station. In a subsequent ambulance, he was taken to nearby AIIMS hospital with a gasping Pinto saying he was unwell. “I was very frightened for my life,” he testified.
Five days later, a court found seven men guilty of plotting and carrying out the attacks. All seven received the death penalty.
The trial was also the first to hear the testimony of two accused masterminds – David Headley, a Pakistan-born American, and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Canadian. Headley testified how he went to India to plan attacks. Rana’s defense team claimed Rana had no knowledge of Headley’s activities.
However, Headley’s American-born accomplice and Headley’s local partner in the terror network, Ilyas Kashmiri, who was later killed in a U.S. drone strike, took Rana to see Headley in Chicago shortly before Rana boarded a flight for Chicago. Rana said they discussed Kashmiri’s connection to Pakistani intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Another one of Headley’s close associates, Tahawwur Rana, a Pakistani national who trained with Taliban militants in the 1990s, was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
The trial was also the first to hear testimony from David Coleman Headley, an American in his 40s who trained with the Pakistani Taliban and later became their link between their contacts in the United States and the ISI.