Mumbai Update 8:00 PM EST

Daily Mail UK, 8:00 pm EST: Up to SEVEN gunmen were British and ‘came from same area as 7/7 bombers’

British-born Pakistanis were among the Mumbai terrorists, Indian government sources claimed today, as the death toll rose to at least 155. As many as seven of the terrorists may have British connections and some could be from Leeds and Bradford where London’s July 7 bombers lived, one source said. Two Britons were among eight gunmen being held, according to Mumbai’s chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. At least nine others are reportedly dead. The eight arrested were captured by commandos after they stormed two hotels and a Jewish centre to free hostages today. Despite the Indian authorities’ assurances that the situation was under control, the siege continued at the Taj Mahal hotel and explosions could still be heard in central Mumbai.

AP via Jerusalem Post:

Renewed gunfire and explosions were heard coming from Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace Hotel on early Saturday morning, Sky News reported. The fresh battle followed a day of Indian commando operations at the hotel and another five-star hotel two days after a chain of Islamic terror attacks across India’s financial center that began Wednesday night left at least 150 people dead and 370 wounded. By Friday evening, at least nine gunmen had been killed and one had been arrested, said R. R. Patil, a top official in Mumbai, India. Media reports said one or two were thought to still be in the Taj Mahal.

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Times of India, 6:00 PM EST (This Post Has Been Moved Up):

Rampant Rumors in Mumbai

2 or 3 terrorists still hiding at Taj hotel: NSG

New York Times mentions increasing suspicions of Pakistani involvement in the attacks

Times Online UK mentions reports that some of the terrorists were British Pakistanis.

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Jerusalem Post, 5:30 PM EST:

Schmotkin identified two other victims as Bentzion Chroman, an Israeli with dual US citizenship, and Leibish Teitlebaum, an American from Brooklyn. He said a fifth victim was an Israeli woman but didn’t have her name.

According to the BBC, The death toll is now up to 155 and includes citizens of the USA, Canada, UK, Israel, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Singapore & Australia as well as India. It’s not over yet at the Taj and, once all of the bodies are found, the death toll will rise dramatically.

[Israel's] Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the attack was no coincidence: “The fact that the attack took place at the Chabad house is the clearest sign that the attack was directed against Jews and Israelis.”

BBC Mumbai Aerial Map

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Haaretz, 3:30 PM EST:

Israeli officials said Friday that six bodies were removed from the Chabad House in Mumbai and taken for identification, confirming an earlier report by ZAKA, the rescue service, that five hostages had been killed there. Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Channel 1 that the bodies of two women and three men were found at the center, one of 10 attacked by suspected Muslim militants across India’s commercial capital. Barak said two men who supervised Jewish dietary laws were also apparently among the dead. Some of the bodies found there had been bound, and the two women who were slain had been killed many hours before, Barak said. Channel 1 reported that the bodies of the Israelis would be brought to Israel for burial on Sunday.

I think one of the murdered kosher supervisors is the son of a well-known NYC Hasidic rebbe because I had read something a day or two back about the the supervisors being missing.

Arutz Sheva:

There was also grave concern over the fate of at least two other Jews as well, both of whom had flown to India on business to serve as Kosher food supervisors in Indian plants that provide ingredients to kosher food companies in the U.S. Rabbi Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum of Jerusalem, the son of the Volover Rebbe of Boro Park and son-in-law of the head of the Toldos Avraham Yitzhak Chassidic sect, was in Mumbai and hasn’t been heard from, as is the case with his co-worker Ben Tzion Korman of Bat Yam.

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Mumbai Update 2:30 PM EST

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, earlier today:

“Our world is under attack, and it doesn’t matter if it’s in India or somewhere else. Only when things like this happen do we understand that we are partners in the same battle. “This is a reminder to the world. We are the target, and it’s not just Israel but the whole Western world. As we understand it they were looking for guests with American, British, and Israeli citizenship.”

JTA:

A Chabad rabbi and his wife were among the dead after Indian forces retook a Jewish center in Mumbai, India from terrorist gunmen. The deaths of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, the Chabad emissaries in Mumbai, were confirmed Friday by the director of American Friends of Lubavitch, Rabbi Levi Shemtov. Three other Israelis in the building were also killed; their names were not released.

The Holtzbergs apparently held dual US-Israeli citizenship. I have already phoned my Chabadnik rabbi friend to offer condolences.

Chabad:

Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, the beloved directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Mumbai, were killed during one of the worst terrorist attacks to strike India in recent memory. Jewish communities around the world reacted with shock to the loss of the couple, who were killed Thursday at their Chabad House during an apparent standoff between Indian military forces and terrorists. Their toddler son, Moshe, managed to escape with his nanny some hours before Indian commandos stormed their building, known as the Nariman House, in the popular touristy neighborhood of Colaba. The Associated Press reported that the boy was unharmed, but was wearing blood-soaked pants….Rivky Holtzberg’s parents, Rabbi Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg arrived in Mumbai early Friday morning to bring their now-orphaned grandson home to family.
To contribute to a fund established to aid relief efforts in Mumbai, go to www.ChabadIndia.org.

Jerusalem Post:

Four Israelis are among the group of hostages that were rescued by Indian special forces from the Oberoi Trident Hotel on Friday, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official in Mumbai told the Jerusalem Post.

Washington Post:

The Virginia father and daughter who were killed were identified as Alan Scherr, 58, and Naomi Scherr, 13. They were members of Synchronicity, a spiritual community in central Virginia that promotes high-tech meditation and a holistic lifestyle, and had traveled to India on a spiritual mission with about two dozen others.

For those of who would not be comfortable giving $$ to Chabad, the JDC is in India working to help Jews and others in this terrible situation – DONATE:

JDC Mobilizes Following Mumbai Tragedy:

Coordinated terrorist assaults in the heart of India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, on Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 left many destinations popular with foreign visitors in shock and in flames. The city’s Chabad House was sieged, and Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka—a remarkable couple whose devotion has made the House a haven for Jews visiting the city—were among the hostages taken. As of this report, AP informs that national security commandoes who went in to fight attackers in the house discovered five bodies: the couple was among them. JDC, which has been working in India for over 40 years, has staff on the ground and is monitoring the situation, which to date remains tenuous and horrifying. JDC Country Director for India, Antony Korenstein, notes that while cities in India, including Mumbai itself, have experienced bombings in recent years, this week’s attack was different. “The shock at the terrorists’ daring was palpable, so much so that many people have been calling this ‘India’s 9/11,’” he says. “It is a particular shock for the Jewish community. Though it’s not clear whether the Chabad House was targeted because it was Jewish or more because it was so visibly foreign, here was a Jewish institution being attacked. Not in Europe. Not in Latin America. But in India,” he continues. For thousands of years, Jews in India have lived without anti-Semitism. Immigration, largely to Israel and the U.S., has dwindled Jewish figures from a high of some 30,000 before the country’s independence in 1947. Today, the 4,500 Jews who remain in India freely and actively embrace their rich and remarkable Jewish traditions. JDC began to address the eventual challenges posed by the population decline, by helping India’s Jewish community maintain critical services starting in 1964. Today, JDC continues to play a key role in India, both in supporting welfare services for those who are indigent, elderly, or sick, and Jewish educational and cultural programs to ensure that the community—especially the young—can maintain their strong, proud, and unique Jewish identity. Three 2008 JDC Jewish Service Corps volunteers are among those helping to strengthen the community’s ability to thrive, spearheading educational programs at the JDC-sponsored Evelyn Peters Jewish Community Center in Mumbai and working in Ahmedabad on JDC-supported non-sectarian programs being implemented by JDC’s leading local partner, the All-India Disaster Mitigation Institute. As a precaution in light of the Mumbai attacks, the volunteers have been temporarily evacuated from what they affectionately refer to as “their home away from home” until it is clear that it is safe to return to India. Since Wednesday’s attacks, JDC’s staff on the ground has been in regular contact with the synagogues and Jewish community leaders to ensure their well-being and has offered assistance to Israelis and others working to bring relief to attack victims, including Magen David Adom, a JDC partner in responding to the 2004 South Asian tsunami in India. JDC has also contacted local hospitals to help locate Israelis who have been missing since the crisis broke and has begun working on enhancing security throughout the Jewish institutions. JDC is also prepared to implement its emergency preparedness program, which it organized with the Mumbai municipality and Israeli Consulate, once the current situation stabilizes. JDC staff on the ground continues to monitor the situation closely. Even as the situation in Mumbai remains in flux and the dust has yet to settle, normal JDC activity on the ground continues, including delivering meals in time for Shabbat to 22 needy elderly Jews who live alone.

Author: HOLLY IN CINCINNATI, Copy Editor

Copy Editor