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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
India Terror Attacks
Aired November 28, 2008 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BLITZER: It's been an amazing, amazing story and CNN is clearly not leaving this story. Our special coverage is going to continue.
We're going to turn things over to my good colleague and friend, Larry King -- a special "LARRY KING LIVE," including developments on what's happening in Mumbai -- starts right now -- Larry.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, reign of terror, day three -- Mumbai under siege. Americans among the dead. Witnesses join us with harrowing stories of survival and escape, as authorities work to answer the ultimate questions -- who committed these atrocities and why?
Right now, on LARRY KING LIVE.
Thank you, Wolf.
The situation in Mumbai remains dangerous -- and continuingly so. A hundred and sixty people have been killed, including five Americans confirmed -- one of them a rabbi.
The Oberoi Hotel has been secured, but new gunfire is being heard at the Taj Mahal Hotel. That's at that complex right now. And commandos are still looking for at least one gunman.
We'll get the latest from CNN International correspondent Nic Robertson, on the scene in Mumbai.
What do we know about the attackers -- Nic?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know, according to government officials, that some of them came ashore by boat. We know that they have been operating in ones, twos, perhaps threes. We know they were young. We know they came in with a lot of ammunition and weapons. They've been able to hold out and fight. It seems that many of them intended to fight to the death, throwing grenades at the army and commandoes.
And it's certainly, if you look at that situation in the Taj Mahal Hotel right now, there is, according to the army and police, perhaps just one attacker there -- a big hotel and they just can't pin him down. And it's three days now.
So we know that they're determined to hold out and fight for as long as they can, Larry. KING: Were there any known women among the attackers?
ROBERTSON: Not that we've been aware of so far. There were some reports in local media here that have been unconfirmed so far. But they -- those reports say that at least a couple of the attackers may have checked into the Taj Mahal Intercontinental Hotel in the days before the main attack was launched, that they had some kind of an advanced intelligence about the hotel -- about the locations of some of the residents inside those hotels.
There was certainly, we understand from officials, a high degree of planning and coordination that went into the attack. Government officials here are pointing a finger of blame at Pakistan.
Pakistan denies it. They've offered to send their -- one of their intelligence chiefs to India to help in the investigation.
But at the moment, there seem to be no firm leads, other than -- other than some of those attackers that the Indian government has captured so far -- Larry.
KING: Thank you, Nic.
Nic Robertson always on top of the scene. We could be calling on him again in this hour, senior -- CNN's senior international correspondent.
Joining us now by beeper, Sara Sidner, a New Delhi-based correspondent for CNN International.
She has been covering this explosive situation at the landmark Taj Mahal. Her reporting put her right in the line of fire.
Take a look at this earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: To sustain long hours and dealing with...
(EXPLOSION IN BACKGROUND)
SIDNER: OK. All right. We're -- another loud bang you heard there. All right. The journalists are now moving back. This is getting really serious and it's getting too close for comfort.
(EXPLOSION IN BACKGROUND)
SIDNER: Whoa, you guys, let's go. Let's start rolling.
(EXPLOSION IN BACKGROUND)
SIDNER: There's a lot of young people.
SIDNER: I've got to get out of here, OK?
So tell me...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell her why sure we are dead.
SIDNER: Stop it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Sara, have you -- have you covered violent scenes in your career?
SIDNER: Oh, I've covered violence, but more on a local level in the United States, so a different scenario.
As you know, India has millions upon millions -- 1.1 billion people in total. And so in any crowd, when you talk about crowds here, you're not talking about a few tens or even a few dozen. You're talking about hundreds at a time -- people coming to see the scene, people on the scene. And you never know when the crowd is going to turn on you, as they did in that video that you saw there.
But right now, let me focus on what is happening in front of me. Right now, just two seconds after, Larry, you showed the video there, there is now flames coming from the bottom of Taj Hotel. There has been smoke that has been pouring out -- tons of smoke has been pouring out from the windows of the first floor and of the ground floor.
Now, the ground floor, there are actual flames that we can see flowing from that area.
And this has been a situation where, in just -- 10 seconds ago, there was so much firing going on and it was some of the worst firing I've heard -- some of the most explosive firing I've heard, followed by blasts, bangs.
And so this situation is certainly making you think twice about going too close, although a lot of the journalists are awfully close to this. I backed myself up. I am squatting down behind a live truck right now, trying to stay safe.
KING: Sara, who's in the hotel?
Is there still an attacker in the hotel?
SIDNER: That is what authorities have been telling us, that there is one person, they believe, a terrorist, inside the hotel, heavily- armed. But that is what we understand at this hour -- someone that may have access to AK-47s, access to grenades, access to handguns.
And this battle has been going on now for such a long time. But it has gotten really, really, really crazy just in the last half an hour or so. And this is first time that we've seen smoke today pouring out of this hotel. Over the time that we've been here, over the 48 hours that I myself have been here, there have been several fires, but nothing caused, necessarily, by the blasts and the booms and the gunshots.
So this is a new picture that you're seeing of the Taj Hotel and a terrible sight to see. What we do not know, Larry, and the most important thing is, who's inside?
Who is still left trying to survive all this?
Are there people locked up in their rooms waiting for someone to rescue them?
Are there hostages still inside waiting for someone to rescue them?
That is the question that all of the public want to know and certainly we have not heard not one word. All we're hearing is gunshots -- Larry.
KING: Excellent reporting.
Sara Sidner, a New Delhi-based correspondent for CNN International.
Joins us now in Mumbai is Matthew Chance, CNN's senior international correspondent.
More than 300 people have been injured in this terror attack. And CNN's Matthew Chance has filed a heart-wrenching report on some of the wounded survivors. This was earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
All of these injured have incredible stories of survival to tell. Many have lost friends and loved ones in the Mumbai attacks. And they may not even be the last casualties to come out of this mess. This city's nightmare is far from over.
CHANCE (voice-over): For some, like this 13-year-old boy, the nightmare may never end. He's nursing wounds from a grenade blast that ripped through one of Mumbai's residential zones. He wants to leave hospital soon, he told me, and go home. But doctors here say they don't have the heart to tell him that most of his family -- his mom, his dad, his uncle and cousins -- were killed in the attack.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KING: Matthew, is there any end in sight?
CHANCE: No, there's not, in short, Larry. For the past 24 hours or so, the Indian authorities have been telling us -- or giving us the impression that this was the final stage of the siege and they were trying their utmost to end this.
But it's certainly proved a lot more difficult and a lot more slow to do that, certainly around the Taj Mahal Hotel.
We understand that there, there is still some kind of activities going on. It's difficult for the security forces, Larry. They have to go from room to room in that vast hotel to make sure there are no militants in there, whether there are hostages there, whether there are just guests holed up inside the room for their own safety. So it's a very slow, painstaking process.
And in the meantime, more people could get injured.
KING: Thank you, Matthew.
We'll be calling on you again -- right atop of the scene.
The reporting on this has been, if may say so, extraordinary.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One explosion practically knocked me off my feet -- the first big one. And that's when I started getting calls saying there's a fire -- there's an explosion on the roof.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was dark and there was blood all over the steps. Thank God they took the bodies away, because it would have been so hard. And everybody grabbed hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining us now in New York, Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent.
And in Washington, Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst, fellow at the New York Foundation and the NYU Center on Law and Security.
Peter, we'll start with you.
What's the buzz about who's behind all this?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, we don't know who's behind this, Larry. But U.S. counter-terrorism officials that I've communicated with recently say that it's unlikely to just be a local group -- too complex, too coordinated.
Of course, the Pakistani -- you know, the Pakistani government is denying that there is any Pakistani role in this. The Indian government, on the other hand, saying that there is a Pakistani role. Historically, when we've seen attacks in India, they have involved Pakistani terrorist groups, often Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e- Mohammed. These are the sorts of groups that anybody investigating this would have to look into. And, particularly, also a gangster in Kara -- who lived in Bombay, who pulled off one of these attacks, killing 250 people, back in 1993. He is believed to be in Pakistan now. The United States government has identified him as being linked to Al Qaeda and also to Lashkar-e-Taiba. His name is Dawood Ibrahim. He would be somebody that they would also be looking at.
KING: Christiane, with the limited information we have, as an educated guess, what are the possible motives?
CHRISTIAN AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is what's confusing everybody. I think it's really interesting because many, many people are trying -- are saying that there's a Pakistani connection. Others are saying maybe it has some of the hallmarks of Al Qaeda or at least Al Qaeda and its numerous spin-offs and clones.
But this Deccan Mujahedeen -- the name is really interesting, because it comes from this southern plateau Hyderabad area. And it comes from a time when, in fact, it was Muslim rule in that part of India -- many, many, many years ago.
So this suggests a deliberate indigenous claim. And, also, there have been talk about links to a so-called Indian Mujahedeen.
And remember, this is the fifth attack in India this year -- attacks that have taken about 150 lives or more before this attack just two days ago. And these have been claimed by Indian Mujahedeen or at least blamed on indigenous Islamists.
AMANPOUR: So this is a very, very difficult thing to sort out at the moment. Many are calling it highly coordinated, highly disciplined. On the other hand, there's eyewitnesses talking about indiscriminate firing of AK-47s, for instance, at the train station. People are talking about deliberately targeting Westerners and, obviously, going to the Jewish Nariman House -- the Jewish targets there. On the other hand, killing Muslims and perhaps Hindus, as well, at the station and other places.
AMANPOUR: So there's no direct line that you can really pin down right now.
KING: Peter, the fatalities, of course, are a lot less, but some are calling this India's 9/11.
Do you buy that?
BERGEN: I wouldn't say it's India's 9/11. After all, you know, there have been terrorist attacks in Bombay that have killed more people in the last 15 years. There's been an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001. There was a hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane back in '99 that both Nic Robertson and I covered, that was taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan.
That was -- so India had these kinds of attacks. But I think the difference here is because of the hostage taking, this attack has now gone on for 55 plus hours. The amount of media attention around the world that is generated by this attack, that's qualitatively different than some of the attacks we've seen previously, which have been suicide operations or bombs that go off and the thing isn't extended for such a long period, as we've seen in this series of operations.
Peter Bergen and Christiane Amanpour, we'll be calling on you again.
Sara Sidner has an update on the fire at the Taj -- Sara, what can you tell us?
SIDNER: I can tell you right now, the fire is really, really raging now. It started on the ground floor. And we were telling you about the smoke coming out from the ground floor and from the first floor.
Well, now, the first floor is in flames coming out of the two windows -- bursting out of two windows, burning all the wood.
This hotel, because it is so old and congested, there's so much wood inside, that's part of what makes this hotel beautiful. On the outside is brick. But on the -- on the inside, it's wood and then there's some wooden parts to the outside, as well.
The wooden parts are just -- they're on fire -- glowing with fire. There is a window on the bottom floor, on the ground floor, that is completely burned through now. You can see almost into the Taj.
And now the flames are licking out of the first floor now. But smoke on the windows to -- on the ground floor is just pouring over this majestic hotel. You can barely see the dome now -- this big, beautiful dome that is sort of like the cherry on top of a beautiful cake -- is now covered in black smoke -- thick black smoke. A real tragedy going on here right now -- Larry.
KING: Yes, thanks so much.
We will be back with more and another comment from Christiane, too. But don't go away.
KING: We're back.
Before we continue with our next guest, Christiane, quickly, what does it -- what does this mean to the United States? AMANPOUR: Well, it's very significant because the U.S. is trying to get India and Pakistan to warm up relations. And this comes at a time when the new Pakistani president was really reaching out to India in an unprecedented way.
If there is a Pakistani connection, that could -- could really disrupt those warmer ties.
And why does that matter?
Because everybody is trying to get Pakistan to take its military away from the heavy concentration it has on India and bring it to its tribal areas and the other places where al Qaeda and the Taliban are threatening Pakistan and Afghanistan -- really threatening to sink both those countries.
So that is the strategic picture that could be very -- very badly harmed...
AMANPOUR: ...if there is a Pakistani link -- Larry.
KING: Thanks, Christiane.
Dr. Deepak Chopra returns with us. He's here in Los Angeles -- the physician, philosopher, author of the new book, "Jesus
A Story of Enlightenment." And he was born, of course, in India.
And in Faber, Virginia is Bobbie Garvey, spokesperson for the Synchronicity Foundation. That's a non-sectarian meditation group based in Virginia. Two people from that group -- Alan Scherr and his 3-year-old daughter Naomi -- were killed in the Mumbai attacks.
Our condolences to you and your friends.
What is What's the Synchronicity Foundation, Bobbie?
BOBBIE GARVEY, KNEW VIRGINIA FATHER, DAUGHTER WHO WERE KILLED: The Synchronicity Foundation is a meditation retreat center in Virginia. It is also the home of our spiritual director, Master Charles Cannon, who has created high tech meditation.
KING: So what can you tell us about Alan and his daughter?
GARVEY: I can tell you that they were very valued members of this community and of Synchronicity. Alan, as myself, is a vice president. He was our key writer. He probably wrote all of our material that is out in the market today.
He was a presenter. He was a very passionate Vedic astrologer, a very beloved, well-loved man.
Before coming to Synchronicity, he was a college professor and taught at the University of Maryland. KING: Have you spoken to members of his family?
GARVEY: Yes, I have. I've, of course, spoken to his wife. I myself, this morning at 5:00 a.m. informed, you know, that their bodies were discovered and that they were deceased. I've also spoken to his sister Susan early today and his brother Mark later on today and Alan's mother.
KING: Thank you, Bobby.
Bobby Garvey in Faber, Virginia.
Dr. Deepak Chopra is here in Los Angeles. He was with us on Wednesday, in the early stages of this.
Have your thoughts changed?
DEEPAK CHOPRA, HAS FRIENDS/FAMILY IN MUMBAI: Well, I think one thought that comes to my mind is we have to ask some very important questions. One thing, for example, we have to ask if we are not in denial, Larry, we have to ask why is global terrorism a predominantly Islamic phenomenon?
You have terrorism in Ireland, you had it in Spain, you've had terrorism in Sri Lanka...
KING: The Palestinians...
CHOPRA: But it's all regional.
Why is this a global phenomenal?
If I was a Muslim scholar or a Muslim academic, I would seriously ask this question.
If it's true, we need to address it.
What causes the radicalization of entirely (ph) middle class Muslim youth in Britain and other places, so that they'll go and take training in these...
KING: You have to -- you'd have to interview them and most zealots are dead.
CHOPRA: I think you have -- well, no, but you have to, you know, go to the deeper causes.
Is it shame?
Is it humiliation?
Is it poverty? Is it lack of identity?
Unless we address these really deep questions right now, we're not going to have a long-term solution. It's one thing to disable these terrorists, but then what do you do after that?
Because they're going to rise again. It's like the, you know, Phoenix arising from the ashes.
Is the Mujahedeen, the Taliban, DLT (ph), the ISI now the biggest threat to, actually, Pakistan?
Is Pakistan's survival at stake because of their own radicals and the breeding ground that they've become?
Is this an opportunity for Pakistan and India, actually, to become allies to get rid of this cancer from within themselves.
KING: I want to take a break and come back in a while. What I want to ask you is how you solve it, though after you learn about it.
We'll be right back.
Don't go away.
KING: We're back.
And that fire continuing to burn. That's at the Taj Mahal Hotel and that's happening right now.
Joining us now in Washington is Zain Verjee, CNN's State Department correspondent.
Earlier today, Barack Obama, president-elect, issued a statement.
Do you have it for us -- Zain?
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has been briefing the president-elect. He issued this statement.
Here's what it says: "There is one president at a time. I will continue to closely monitor the situation in Mumbai and I'm grateful for the cooperation of the Bush administration in keeping me and my staff updated. We fully support the Bush administration's efforts to American citizens and assist the government of India during this tragic time."
This is important, Larry, too, because it really does underscore something really significant -- that the president-elect will face a national security issue, will face terrorism and the India Pakistan crisis, if it does flare up, will end up with a big thud on the president's desk come January 20th.
KING: What's Condoleezza and the Bush administration saying?
VERJEE: Well, Secretary Rice has really been working the phones. She's been talking to Indian leaders, Pakistani leaders. She's been talking to U.S. allies, like the British. She's in touch with the Indian embassy here.
Secretary Rice, really, behind-the-scenes working diplomacy, because the U.S. cannot afford, at this stage, to let the India Pakistan issue flare up and get out of control.
It's a really delicate, difficult and dangerous situation, Larry. Secretary Rice has to consider the Indian component here, the Pakistani component, that's very likely, and delicately balance this whole thing, because they're both allies and they don't -- the U.S. doesn't want a situation where one feels threatened or the other feels threatened.
VERJEE: She's also got to set up things for the next secretary of state and make sure the U.S. doesn't miss a beat.
KING: We live in turbulent times.
Zain Verjee, CNN's State Department correspondent.
Quickly, back to Mumbai and another update from Sara Sidner -- Sara.
SIDNER: Larry, and it's very dramatic right now. We have noticed that a body has been dragged across the ground after flames came bursting out of the first floor. And since that body has left the hotel, since that body has been dragged -- we don't know who that is -- but there have been no further gun battles going on here. And this is the first time we haven't heard shots for the past two minutes in about two hours. So that may indicate that it is very close to being over.
But, again, we don't want to jump the gun, because right now there is so much smoke billowing from this first floor.
But I can tell you that they have now moved in with the fire brigade. And the fire brigade has gotten closer than they have in the past. And (INAUDIBLE) and pouring water into the first floor. And no longer are there flames. Now it's just smoke billowing and billowing up -- Larry.
KING: Thanks, Sara.
We'll come back with more of Deepak Chopra and Jonathan Ehrlich, a survivor of all of this.
Don't go away.
KING: We're with Jonathan Ehrlich, a survivor of the Mumbai attacks. He was in a -- what happened? Where were you and what happened?
JONATHAN EHRLICH, SURVIVED OBEROI HOTEL: Well, I was in my room in the Trident, which is attached to the Oberoi, it's one complex. I just had dinner in the Oberoi lobby. I received a text message from a friend of mine, a colleague of mine, Alex Chamberlain, to join him for a drink in the Oberoi bar. But I had a flight the next morning, early, so I decided to just go to sleep and didn't join him.
About an hour after turning in, there was a knock on my door and a couple of seconds later, the doorbell rang. I didn't get out of bed. I couldn't understand who would be coming to my door that late at night and I just really wanted them to go away.
About five minute later, the first bomb went off. I went over to the window, looked out and saw a cloud of gray smoke coming up from the road. I turned to go into the hallway when the second bomb went off. And that bomb was massive. The whole hotel shook. And I knew that this was bad.
I took a couple of steps into the hallway, turned to my right and I saw a gentleman there and I only heard the word "bomb" and when I heard the word "bomb," something switched off in my head and my heart started to explode, adrenaline started to race through my body. And I ran back into my room, I put a few things in my bag and I ran back into the hallway. I went down the stairs. I was on the 18th floor and I tell you, I covered that in about two minutes flat.
KING: What happened to Alex?
EHRLICH: Well, so Alex was there in the lobby with his friend when the bomb went off. Sorry, when the terrorists came in. They shot a couple of people and they took Alex and his colleague and friend hostage. And they were marching them up onto the roof, and Alex fortunately escaped. He hid behind a chest on one of the floors. His friend did not, he was taken to the roof. I have not heard the status of him. I have been trying to talk to Alex the last few hours but he's been unavailable. I know that they've cleared the hotel, but I haven't heard word of him.
KING: What were you doing in Mumbai, Jonathan?
EHRLICH: I work for an Internet company here in Vancouver. And we have a joint venture with a local Indian partner, we're building some cricket sport Web sites with some great folks over there.
KING: Were you particularly concerned because you were Jewish?
EHRLICH: You know, I didn't really have time to think about it. I knew really only one thing, when the bombs went off. That was get out.
But, look, look, obviously the Jewish people, as you know, Larry, have been targeted for centuries and more recently with these types of cowardly attacks in our cities globally. And I think the important message here is that it doesn't really matter whether you're Jewish or Christian or Muslim, whether you believe in Noam Chomsky or Pat Buchanan, whether you're 3-years-old or 100-years-old, all these people cared about was killing.
And it was just about finding a Westerner and somebody near a Westerner and putting a bullet in them or putting them in a position they can do them harm. And I think that's the important thing for people to understand.
Mumbai is New York, New York is D.C., D.C. is Vancouver and Vancouver is Menlo Park or Toronto. These people don't have any remorse, it is pure evil. And they need to be stopped. And what we all need to do is get on a plane, go to Mumbai, put our arms around these people. They're fantastic and beautiful people, they need our support. And we need to go and show these people that we're not afraid. We need to dust ourselves off, pick ourselves up and get back in the game.
KING: Well said, Jonathan. Thanks, we'll be calling on you again.
EHRLICH: Thank you, sir.
KING: Be safe.
EHRLICH: All right buddy, thanks very much.
KING: Jonathan Ehrlich, back home in Vancouver.
Back with Dr. Deepak Chopra. Isn't it in India and Pakistan's in view of all of this, self interest to join together?
CHOPRA: It is. But look here, these guys are making a statement. They're not beholden to anyone other than themselves. By killing Jews, they're making a statement to Israel. By doing it on Indian soil right before the elections, they're making a statement to the Indian government. By attacking Westerners, they're making a statement to the United States and Britain and the Western world.
And having come from Pakistan, they're telling their own country where they were bred, not their own country necessarily, because of the Sunni international group, they're making a statement to Pakistan, watch out, you're going to be friendly with these guys, we're going to show you.
KING: Christiane Amanpour wanted to add something. Christiane?
AMANPOUR: Well, you were talking about motives. First of all, Pakistan has denied having anything to do with it and the president has sent over the head of the Pakistani ISI, military intelligence to go and talk to the Indian prime minister and try to obviously see if they can sort something out there.
But in terms of motive, Deepak was talking about the sort of global Islamic movement, what's wrong? Certainly, many of these groups, if it's al Qaeda, they're just nihilists who are bent on a power struggle to kill either what they call infidels who may be Western or even within the whole Muslim group itself.
But in India, it is very important to note, there is 150 million or so Muslims in India, it is the world's largest Muslim minority, bigger than most countries and Indian government ordered commission about 2006 talked about the Indian minority there and really saw that they were, in terms of jobs, income, education, thoroughly disadvantaged compared to the Hindu majority.
This Indian Mujahadeen has spoken about those grievances before. Then there's the other issue of Kashmir, all these groups have talked about Kashmir as well, which is an ongoing and festering sore. That is the Indian administered, Muslim majority province up there near the Himalayas. So that's an open, festering sore as well.
And obviously, you know, you talked about, isn't it in both country's interests to warm up. Well yes, except there are very powerful elements on both sides that don't want relations to be warmed up. So that's going to be a test also of whether they can be determined and courageous leadership to try to keep this a warming up of relations on track.
KING: Christiane, we will call on you again over the weekend and on Monday. Christiane, right on top of things. Back with more of Deepak Chopra and other guests after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With profound sadness and deep sorrow, we received the definitive news just a short while ago confirming the brutal murder of two of our finest, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and Rivka Holtzberg. They were representatives in Mumbai, India, who served their community with love and devotion.
KING: Joining us on the phone is James Fontanella-Kahn. His flat is 20 meters away from the place where the rabbi and his wife were killed. And he was unaware, we're told, that there was even a Jewish center there. But you saw the whole commandos pull off that raid, didn't you, James?
JAMES FONTANELLA-KAHN, WITNESS (on phone): That's correct, Larry. And I mean, we're all absolutely distressed here. I was in my flat on Wednesday when I heard a tremor. I thought it was a firecracker or something, some left over from Divadi (ph), which is one of the most Hindu festivals in India.
And then suddenly, it turned out to be one of the worst, if not the worst terrorist attacks in India. And I mean, the commandos entered the rabbi, the flat. I mean, it was very effective but it took a long time before they could actually figure out who was in and they tried to get people out. It was a very, very difficult operation. We managed to see things from the rooftop of our driver, who lived in the area, too. And we have an astonishing view on the actual flat of where the terrorists were based and where they were keeping the rabbi and his wife hostage.
KING: Wow. And you didn't even know there was a Jewish center there?
FONTANELLA-KAHN: No. I mean, this was a very discreet family. The Jewish community in Mumbai, you need to understand, is very small. The most famous synagogue is the Eliyahoo Synagogue (ph) which is based close to the fort, which is in south Mumbai. But you know, a lot of locals didn't even know that there was a Jewish center there.
And that just tells you, I think, that they lived very low profile lives, they were very sober. And it was shocking. We didn't know that could ever happen. And you need to understand, Larry, south Mumbai, compared to the rest of the city is one of the most peaceful and friendly places where Muslims, Christians, non-Christians, non- Hindu, everybody lives together in peace. And so this really touches everybody.
KING: Thank you so much, James. We go to Manchester, England. Sajjad Karim is a British member of the European Parliament. You were at the Taj Mahal when all this broke loose. Sajjad, what was it like?
SAJJAD KARIM, WITNESS: It really was a horrific ordeal for absolutely everybody concerned. There was just sheer panic and confusion when matters first started off and people just didn't understand what was happening and what started off as initial observations of people that this was some sort of wedding party that's taking place with firecrackers instantly turned into a compete and utter bloodbath.
KING: Sajjad, you had a close encounter with one of the gunmen, is that right?
KARIM: Yes. I was standing in the foyer at the time and everybody immediately started to run away from the front entrance doors towards the rear exit doors in order to make good an escape. Because I could only assume some of the terrorists with guns have made their way to the front of the hotel.
And as we approached, the only available rear exit, another gunman appeared and stood literally yards in front of us and pointed his automatic weapon, which was a machine gun type of weapon straight at us and just started firing. I was one of the extremely lucky few that got away. I saw many people drop right in front of my own eyes.
KING: Sajjad, thank you so much. Sajjad Karim in Manchester, England.
Dr. Chopra, as I told you, we'll have to have you come back near the end of all of this. You'll be back maybe during this again. Hopefully it ends soon. I want to get a look at the whole picture because when we're covering something like this, it's very hard to philosophically look at the cause of these kinds of elements. This is a very difficult situation.
CHOPRA: In the meanwhile though, I think we have to seriously suffocate the financial pipeline that goes from Saudi Arabia to where we're privy and part of through our oil addiction. We have to look at the weapons trade that we are part of, that supplies and sells weapons to every side of every conflict. So there are lots of issues here that have to be looked at. I think in the long term, there has to be a marshall plan that looks at the deeper causes of global instability, poverty, radicalism, lack of education.
KING: Dr. Chopra, we'll come back and have a much greater time with him as this unfolds. His new book by the way is "Jesus: The Story of Enlightenment." Thanks for the time. We'll be back. Don't go away.
KING: Indian forces, the commandos, are still working at this hour to secure the Taj Hotel. Here now, a first-hand account from one of them on the front lines in the fight with terrorists there. Watch
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were not aware how many had been killed. But several exchange of fire takes place in darkness and there is blood all over. There are bodies lying all over. You are actually not looking at who is injured or who is killed. You are just looking at somebody who has got some weapons on him. And let me tell you one thing, that when we first exchanged fire, we could have got those terrorists. But for there was so much of the hotel guests there outside. The bodies were lying strewn here and there. There was blood all over.
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KING: More to come and we'll go back live to Mumbai right after this.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He stopped us after two or three flights and told everyone to put their hands up and said where are you from? Do we have any British or Americans here? Show us your ID. So I was there with my hands up, thinking basically I was in serious trouble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's get some wrap-ups as we close in on the hour from the reporters on the scene. Matthew Chance, what's the latest from your standpoint?
CHANCE: Well the situation still very tense in Mumbai, India's financial hub. The siege that is underway at the Taj Mahal Continental hotel is still very much in process. There's been some developments there. We'll hear from Sara Sidner in a moment. But the developments are kind of very intense, a lot of growing anger in the financial capital. A lot of frustration as well amongst people in the city because this siege has now lasted into its third day and people want desperately for it to come to an end. They want the authorities to move, to bring it to an end as soon as possible, Larry.
KING: Thank you, Matthew. And Sara Sidner, do you see any end here in sight?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Larry, I think there definitely, this is the first time I can say that it appears to be coming to a close, at least close to a close, if that makes any sense. There is a ladder right now that is up on the first floor. We have gotten this fire almost out.
But now there are flames licking up on the first floor out of one of the windows in this majestic hotel. The reason why I say it seems to be close to over, is that this is the first time that we're seeing the fire brigades get this close.
They're standing out in the open. If there was any danger that they might be shot, that there is still a possible terror suspect inside, you would think that they would bring those guys back and honestly just maybe let it burn, or at least be back further off in the hotel.
But they're all standing in plain daylight, standing on top of the truck and pouring tons of water into this first floor. This first floor has been the real target over the past 48 hours, the real target area for commandos.
And we believe that there is definitely possibly I should a terrorist that may have been holed up inside there. And ever since this fire broke out and ever since we noticed a body dragged from the area, there have been no more gunshots, no more loud bangs, no more explosions, Larry.
KING: Thanks Sara, great reporting. We'll be back with terrorism experts to close it out after this.
KING: Peter Bergen remains with us. We're joined now by Paul Cruickshank. Paul is investigative journalist and terrorism expert. His latest book is "Al Qaeda: The Current Threat." He's a fellow at the New York University Center for Law and Security.
Paul, the search for who did this. Do you see fingerprints?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, TERRORISM EXPERT: I think that without suspicion tonight, this could be the work of a Pakistani militant Kashmiri group, maybe Jaish-i-Mohammed or Lashkar-i-Taiba. These are two militant groups with a track record of launching attacks on India, on the Indian parliament in 2001, an attack on Mumbai in 2006. They're also groups which increasingly buy into al Qaeda's global jihad. They may have an interest right now in launching an attack in India to torpedo a possible peace agreement over Kashmir. And this group, Lashkar-i-Taiba also in the past in Kashmir has used some of the same tactics that we have been seeing in Bombay, armed marauders going around the streets, Fatayin (ph) fighters who are willing to die by launching attacks.
KING: Paul, are there many groups out there who can pull off something like this?
CRUICKSHANK: I don't think there are many groups out there. I think that has got to be an established group. There was a claim of responsibility from Deccan Mujahadeen. No one has really heard of this group. I think it's more likely that this as a Pakistani group, maybe in conjunction with an indigenous Indian group. There's a group called Indian Mujahadeen which has launched around half a dozen operations in India over the last year. They killed lots of people and this is a group with some local grievances, but they're increasingly buying into bin Laden's global jihad, Larry.
KING: Peter, there's been speculation that an Indian crime boss Dawood Ibrahim might have had a hand in this. What do you know about that?
BERGEN: Well, he's the alleged mastermind of not just a similar set of attacks in Bombay back in 1993, 13 separate bombing attacks that killed more than 250 people. The United States has identified him as al Qaeda, linked by Lashkar-i-Taiba, one of the Kashmiri militant groups we've been discussing in this program. He's believed to be in Pakistan. He is somebody who certainly that would be interest to anybody doing this investigation, Larry.
KING: Do you expect, both of you, Paul, do you think we'll learn a lot from the attackers who were captured?
CRUICKSHANK: I think the Indian authorities will interrogate them. They'll learn a lot. They're likely to find out a lot of information in the coming hours. They haven't really shared any of this yet, Larry.
KING: Do we now have, Peter, is this world-wide terrorism, as Dr. Chopra said?
BERGEN: Well certainly this group sees itself as part of a wider global jihad, the fact that it targeted Westerners, the fact that it targeted Jews, the kinds of statements that they made onto Indian television, saying that they wanted other Mujahedeen released, mentioning Kashmir, you know sort of a whole load of issues which global Jihadists have gotten onto.
In terms of what they might find from the attackers who are arrested, it's not simply what they find in terms of interrogation, it's what in their pocket litter, what investigators refer to as pocket litter, are they carrying any ID? There's been some reports that two of them have some sort of British ID, but it's clear if it's British citizens or if it's fake British ID or did they pick up these passports perhaps from some of the British targets of this attack.
But those are the kinds of things. Even if they are interrogating people who won't say anything, often somebody will have something on his person that will lead to some other factors in the operation.
KING: Paul, when we talk about the war on terrorism, if a terrorist is born today, isn't that war untenable? Isn't it going to go on? I mean, Osama bin Laden still at large. Is there an end to it?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, there could be an end or at least it could get better. There's been a backlash really in the Muslim world against al Qaeda's violence, its tactics.
The fact that since 9/11, mostly it's killed Muslims rather than Westerners in its attacks. In India, maybe there are also a lot of Muslims who died in these attacks in the last days. There may well be a backlash in India against al Qaeda.
Indian Muslims have been very resistant to al Qaeda's ideology. There is a small fringe where there is more support for al Qaeda's ideology. But we have seen a trend where there's a backlash against al Qaeda. Even some of al Qaeda's fellow travelers, jihadists who fought with bin Laden in Afghanistan in the 1980s, are now starting to turn against al Qaeda.
KING: This just in, we're getting conflicting reports from Mumbai. The police chief is telling CNN IBN that the remaining two terrorists at the Taj have been killed and that that siege is over. The director general of National Security Guard says the siege is still going on. Conflicting reports. CNN will continue to follow the situation throughout the night. CNN International, the best international reporting ever will be atop this scene throughout the night starting a couple hours from now.
What do you make of -- we have 30 seconds, Peter, conflicting reports?
BERGEN: Well, we've had conflicting reports throughout this. And that's not very surprising. But it clearly is Sara's reporting from the Taj Hotel indicates that things seem to be winding down there.
KING: Let's hope. Thank you both very much, Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank. And CNN International will be with you in a couple of hours staying atop the scene. But right now, an encore presentation of "CNN HEROES" starts now.