HBO recaptures “Terror In Mumbai” in a documentary

November 16, 2009

taj hotel mumbai terror attack 200x150Washington, ( “Terror In Mumbai”, a new riveting documentary reconstructing the horrendous attack on India’s financial capital airs in the US Thursday to mark the first anniversary of the Nov 26 assault.

Directed by Dan Reed, who made a similar film out of a disastrous hostage taking at a Russian theatre in “Terror in Moscow,” shown on HBO in 2003, the movie recaps how a small band of terrorists from Pakistan spread death through Mumbai, much of it at two well-known hotels, including the lavish Taj Mahal Palace & Tower.

More than 170 people died in the attack, which Reed recreates from news footage, security camera images and intercepted cellphone calls between the na�ve-sounding terrorists and someone who was giving them detailed instructions.

“There are computers here with 30-inch screens,” one awestruck gunman says as he’s going through the Taj; the man on the other end of the phone has to order him to get back to the business of killing, the New York Times noted in a preview.

“The 10 young Pakistani men who reached Mumbai in a fishing boat last Nov 26, and proceeded, methodically, on their mission of mass murder and the destruction of that Indian city’s most famous landmarks, had been told the world would remember them,” recalled the Wall Street Journal.

“As it turned out, it was the one promise made by their handler – safe in Pakistan as he directed them, via cellphone, while they killed 170 people and wounded more than 300 – that they could count on,” noted the Journal critic writing under the title “Dial Mumbai for Murder”.

“There’s not a moment in this stunning film – directed by Dan Reed, narrated by Mumbai-born Fareed Zakaria – that doesn’t leave one rapt with wonder at its revelatory powers, and wanting more,” the review adds.

The “…extraordinary circumstances that made it possible to overhear their (attackers) conversations during every step of their blood-drenched rampage” is a “fact that distinguishes ‘Terror in Mumbai’ from every other film on terrorism ever made,” it says.

“…the thing that accounts for the singular, soul-chilling intimacy of its picture of the youthful killers going about their work, and of the silken-voiced handler urging them on with assurances that they are now ‘very close to heaven’.”

“Inshallah” these members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, or the Army of the Righteous, reply, if ever more uncertainly.

“The attackers, with their cellphones, backpacks and supplies of nuts and raisins, came from the poorest provinces – a fact doubtless seen as support for the filmmakers’ small end note suggesting that terrorism would decline if we helped to end poverty,” the Journal noted.

But the Journal critic seems to disagree, calling it “a comforting faith, that – though one that flies in the face of what we know about the centrality of radical Islam as the driving force for terrorism”.

“Virtually all of the 9/11 terrorists were well-to-do or middle class; none were impoverished,” it noted. “Mohammed Atta’s father was a lawyer, and the rest of the plotters in the Hamburg cells were, like him, educated. They all had in common one other thing – their commitment to the precepts of radical Islam.”

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