5 Dead in Mumbai Chabad House Terror Attack

by Hana Levi Julian

(IsraelNN.com) After more than 40 hours and a day-long siege by Indian
commandos against Islamist terrorists holed up in the Mumbai Chabad House,
the operation ended with the discovery that five of the Jewish hostages
had been murdered by their captors, including Chabad-Lubavitch emissary,
Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka.

Foreign Ministry sources told Israel National News just minutes before
the start of the Sabbath in Israel that the victims also included two
women who had been trapped on the top floor with the Holtzbergs, as well
as a fifth unnamed person.

Indian television had reported jubilantly an hour earlier that the
siege of the Nariman Chabad House in Mumbai was over, and that all
the terrorists were killed -- but suddenly, in a dramatic reversal,
announced that authorities ordered the wildly cheering crowd to move back:
it wasn't really over after all.

Government commandos had begun to exit the badly damaged building smiling
broadly and flashing the "thumbs up" sign at the applauding crowd in the
street, with one commander telling the media that the fierce fire fight
was finished, with three terrorists dead.  A loud explosion, probably
from a grenade or rocket launcher, had been heard moments earlier on
the top floor of the five-story building, which was badly damaged.

The situation was termed "utter chaos" by journalists, as darkness
combined with crowds and confusion to create a mess for security forces
who were trying to figure out whether there were terrorists left in
the building, and if so, where they were and how to either capture or
kill them.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed that two Israeli hostages have been freed
in Mumbai after spending more than 30 hours holed up in the Oberoi-Trident
Hotel. The two businessmen, who were identified only by their last names,
Weingarten and Zamir, were rescued Friday morning at approximately 7:30
a.m. Israel time.

According to Ministry spokesman Andy David, neither was injured and both
are in good condition following their harrowing ordeal. "I can confirm
that they're out, they're free... they made contact with our Consulate,
our people saw them and they're okay," he told Israel National News,
adding that both planned to return to Israel but that a timeline had
not been set.

The Foreign Ministry firmly denied the numerous and repeated reports by
Indian media that Jewish hostages had been rescued from the Chabad House.

"The reports are simply untrue," said David. "No one has been freed there,
and no one has come out. We don't know what the situation is inside. There
is no confirmation of the number of people there either," he emphasized.

"There are Israelis who stop in there at Chabad all the time, who can
visit, get a meal, join a prayer... we have no way to know many people
were there," he said. "There is a lot of battlefield fog, you know,
we get a lot of reports, 'It's over,' then, 'It's not over,' then,
'It's over,' again."

David was grim regarding the condition of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his
wife. "Of course we are very worried for them, but we have no information
at this point," he said.

An Israeli media report of four bodies being found in the building was
brushed aside. "These were old reports by the local woman who brought
out the Holtzbergs' one and a half-year-old son when she came out early
Thursday morning," said the Foreign Ministry spokesman. The family's
babysitter, Sandra Samuel reported when she escaped that four people,
including the Holtzbergs, were lying unconscious. She remained with
little Moshe until his grandparents arrived from Israel early Friday
morning to care for him.

David also debunked a rumor that an Israel Air Force helicopter had been
seen flying around the roof of the Oberoi-Trident Hotel late Thursday
night. "Not true," he said. "Absolutely not. No Israeli security or
military units or personnel or anything of the sort are in India, nor
are there plans to send them.  Fruitful imagination," he added.

Commandos who entered the building Friday morning were moving "very
slowly, deliberately, through each floor" reported an NDTV news anchor,
who stressed that the cameraman was deliberately "shying away from showing
any close-up visuals or pictures that might give away the position of
the commandos to the terrorists."

Operations at the Oberoi-Trident Hotel has been declared over.
Reporter noted that relatives crowding around the hotel are "scared and
frustrated," adding, "They don't understand why they don't have any
news of their loved ones if the operation is over," she said. Inside
commandos continue to methodically search from room to room, trying to
determine how many bodies are still inside.

Indian army sources have claimed that the terrorists had received commando
training from the Pakistan Army and had been provided with boats and
logistical support by the Mumbai underworld, according to India's IBN
Live television news.

The Chabad House was one of 10 sites that were struck by some 25
terrorists who apparently infiltrated into Mumbai by sea and then fanned
out through the city.

Statement from World Lubavitch HQ Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky of Chabad World
Headquarters in New York released a statement on behalf of the movement

    Once again, terrorism has reared its evil head, this time in Mumbai
    (Bombay) India. Our Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Community Center,
    located in Nariman House in the Colaba district, is still occupied
    by the terrorists.

    As of Thursday (Nov. 27) evening, we have not yet heard from our
    representatives in Mumbai, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, who
    head the center. The Holtzbergs¿ 18-month old son, Moshe, was rescued
    early Thursday morning and is in the custody of trusted friends.

    Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters, through its global contacts,
    continues to vigilantly monitor this tragic situation as it develops.

    We pray for the speedy, safe release of all the hostages and those
    yet missing, and for the healing and complete recovery of all
    those wounded. We express heartfelt condolences to the families and
    loved ones of each of those who have been brutally murdered in this
    senseless barbaric attack.

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.  It is believed, however,
that at least one or both of the men may have escaped harm.