who landed in south Mumbai to attack the city.
The book re-creates the human tragedy inside the Taj
Mahal hotel in those 68 hours, giving a virtual second-by-second account of what went on inside when the world
was watching the horror unfolding on television.
Even five years after the terror attacks, Levy says, the
Indian establishment has not honestly approached the
event and learned the right lessons.
What brought you to this subject?
I was really motivated by the fact that no one, to my
mind, has really taken this seriously.
You know when 9/11 happened, there is the 9/11
Commission report and there are nearly 600 pages of very
When 7/7 happened in London, there are thousands of
pages and it is available for the public to see in the
In both cases, particularly in the American experience,
there are may be two or three great books that have been
written — Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright; Steve Coll
has written a great work on (Osama) bin Laden.
And you tell me what happened after 26/11? The
Pradhan Committee report is just 64 pages. 64! No interviewing of the intelligence agencies, no interviewing of the
military, no interviewing of the National Security Guard,
no politicians, just the police.
This is not a serious response to a seminal event like
26/11. The sacrifice by people, and also the stigma of the
attack on the city, and it is one of the first of many things
that will happen now.
It was a new wave. We have seen it with Nairobi and we
will see it again and again and again. And it is very significant for so many reasons. Firstly, because people are not
taking 26/11 seriously enough. I feel they have brushed it
under the carpet. I think that is not also a testimony to
the dead, to the survivors, to the people in the security
service, the Taj staff, the guests, the policemen who did
fight, where are their stories?
You know, maybe a little bit on cable news, something
on You Tube, maybe (reporter) Ashish Khetan wrote something in the book (26/11 Mumbai Attacked) that came out
in 2009, which was an immediate gut reaction.
Where is the attempt to do the big picture? Tell this as it
is and say that this is the story of 26/11? This is my thinking.
What is the big picture? Can you take us to Pakistan and
let us understand the scene behind the attack?
I think there is a ladder here, and I think that two
things happened simultaneously.
The first thing is that Pakistan, the military and intelligence establishment, was going through a very tumultuous period. Incredibly racked by problems, leading up
to the Red Mosque siege in 2007, when you remember
(then Pakistan president Pervez) Musharraf made the
decision to send in his boys from the Special Services to
storm the mosque.
That was a turning point for Pakistan. A watershed.
Because suddenly the jihad industry, which they nurtured and grew and that they funded and trained, had
split. And after Pakistani forces were seen in a mosque,
killing seminary students and women, then the movement split, many became radicalized and turned against
the State-sponsored outfits and moved to Al Qaeda.
It was a very important event. So, the Inter Services
Intelligence, elements of the military, became very
scared. They were no longer in control of the foot soldiers that General Zia-(ul Haq) created lovingly from
And at the same time one of the prime organizations
that has done the foreign policy, the black foreign policy,
of Pakistan is the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. The Army of the
Pure had solely been focused diligently really on
Kashmir. And that was the recruiting ground. But now it
was losing people left, right and center, its military council was split, people wanted to take up the Khajul
(Islamic finance) for Ummah and not for Kashmir.
They wanted the pan-Islamic platform,
like Al Qaeda. They were jealous of Al
Qaeda, the young.
So the ISI needed a plan, they needed to
show up the jihad factory. Lashkar was
split and needed something cohesive that
could bring itself back together again.
Into this mess, shortly beforehand, there
walks this chameleon — Daood Gilani who
would become David Coleman Headley, he
was also needing a plan.
Now the story of Daood Gilani is that he
has always needed a plan. If you look at his
life very carefully, basically from his birth
onwards, he needed a big idea. Essentially,
he was a drug dealer when he got caught.
He needed a plan.
So when he was caught in 1988, he
offered up all the people he was working
with so that he got a short sentence. And he offered to
work directly for the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) in
This methodology would be one he would pursue
throughout. He got caught again, he offered up more people. And by the time he gets to 1998 and caught again it
was 10 years of informing, 10 years of working his way
into the intelligence establishments in America.
He was caught in New York.
Being extraordinarily bright and a psychopath to some
degree, he believes that what America wanted most was a
grassroots understanding of the jihad factory being grown
in Pakistan. Already, everyone was getting worried.
If you remember in 1998 the US embassy bombings in
Africa. America has been caught in Kenya, Dar-es-Salaam. The embassies were blown up simultaneously,
hundreds were injured. And apparently it is Al Qaeda.
They don’t know who Al Qaeda really is or bin Laden.
And here is an American — half Pakistani, half
‘THE POLICE SAY ALL THE TIME, THAT WE
‘AMERICA CONCEALED ITS KNOWLEDGE, ITS TRUE
NEVER KNEW ABOUT THE SEA, WE COULD
NEVER HAVE GUESSED — THEY KNEW. THEY
KNEW HOW MANY MEN WOULD BE IN THE
TEAM, THEY KNEW THE METHOD OF
LANDING, BY DINGHY, THEY DIDN’T KNOW
WHERE. THEY KNEW MUMBAI WAS THE
TARGET. THEY KNEW ROUGHLY THE
METHODOLOGY — RDX EXPLOSIVES, AK-47S…
EVERY SINGLE TARGET WAS KNOWN APART
FROM THE JEWISH CENTER IN SOUTH
KNOWLEDGE OF THE GROWING RISK ON MUMBAI’
Flames rush out of the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, November 27, 2008
INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/GETT Y IMAGES
Victims of the terrorist strike near
the swimming pool in the Taj in
Mumbai, November 26.
PTI PHOTO/COURTES Y INDIAN EXPRESS