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CNN NEWSROOM

Continuing Coverage of Indian Terror Attacks

Aired November 27, 2008 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us on our breaking news coverage. It's just after 12:30 a.m. in Mumbai. Developments are changing by the second, as you can imagine, in this terror rampage that many are calling India's 9/11 right now.
I can tell you, within the past half-hour, our sister network, CNN-IBN, reported the siege and standoff and Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel was over, the last three attackers killed, but then, our people actually heard gunshots.

Sara Sidner is there on the scene. She actually heard a gunshot. It happened again. We were talking to her within her live shot. And then, a top Indian official said that three gunmen remained hold up at - one at the Taj, and then two at the Oberoi Hotel.

The Associated Press now reporting that eight more hostages have gone free at the Mumbai Jewish Center more than 24 hours after this nightmare began. We just heard from our Andrew Stevens, though. He was saying that, definitely, that the rabbi's child had gotten out of the community center there, but that he and his wife still hold up with another guest.

So, those numbers are - we're not quite sure what we can confirm there at this point. But overall, police say that 125 people are now dead from gunshots and explosions, fires, at some of Mumbai's best- known landmarks that we've been mentioning right now. More than 300 people, we are told, have been hurt. Those explosions and gunfire have been seen and heard throughout the day.

I mentioned Sara Sidner still hearing them there in front of the Taj Hotel where she is. A major fire at the hotel Oberoi, though, we are told is out, even though authorities are still going at it with gunmen there - two gunmen, we are told.

Now, authorities estimating more than two dozen attackers carried out this highly coordinated assault. A dozen or so have been killed to this point. Also dead is the chief of the anti-terror squad of the Mumbai police.

Mike Brooks, formerly with the FBI, with SWAT, why don't we back up. I have a number of questions for you.

MIKE BROOKS, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Sure.

PHILLIPS: Let's begin with the FBI. You broke this news, the FBI here in the U.S. headed to Mumbai. And as you recall, this has never happened before. BROOKS: Well, you know, I was talking to my FBI sources. And the team is going out of Los Angeles field office. It's not a full- blown team like we would normally send, but is an investigative team with a bomb tech adviser, and also with an evidence response team adviser on dealing with the forensics and different crime scenes throughout the city, to coordinate with the Indian authorities.

But we were talking. This is the first time that we can remember, Kyra, that the Indians have ever asked for our help from the United States. Usually when something happens, you know, we'll offer the help, because, keep in mind, there at the embassy, you have an FBI - it's called the legal attache. It's basically the liaison between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Indian government.

Also you have there, as part of the diplomatic - as part of the U.S. State Department, you have diplomatic security that also is there. And we'll also say, hey, if you need our help, we'd be more than help you - we'd be more than glad to help you.

But this is the first time that ...

PHILLIPS: Why?

BROOKS: ... that my ...

PHILLIPS: Why now? Is it ...

BROOKS: I don't know.

PHILLIPS: It never - they haven't seen something like this before? Are they concerned about ...

BROOKS: Well, they've seen other things before. You know, going back in the '90s and some other things ...

PHILLIPS: They dealt with a number of attacks ...

BROOKS: ... a number of attacks,

PHILLIPS: ... throughout the years.

BROOKS: In fact, you know, they have their commando force. I was talking to one of my former C.O. buddies that I used to do training with. And some of them - and also, globalsecurity.org.

The national - it's called - their commando force is called the National Security Guards. They're made up of groups and special action groups, and the special action - and the special rangers group. And the ...

PHILLIPS: So, they're military and law enforcement experience.

BROOKS: They draw from the Indian - they draw from the Indian army, but they also can assist the authorities there, the police authorities, where here in the United States, you know, it's a special ... PHILLIPS: Yes, it's separate.

BROOKS: ... posse comitatus law that, you know, that only - local law enforcement will only handle things like this unless the president says yes, the military can join in.

But in India, the military can just come in on situations like this and basically take over.

PHILLIPS: So, OK. So, looking at how this has all gone down to this point, you're saying, from your experience, this is the first time the FBI has been asked to participate in something like this before.

You've got the Indian commandos in there. But you also have the head of the anti-terror squad ...

BROOKS: Right.

PHILLIPS: ... in India that was taken out almost immediately, right as they went into this - a number of heads of security and law enforcement taken out.

I mean, these guys, these terrorists knew what they were doing, what they needed to go after. And, I mean, it was very well orchestrated. Even the prime minister of India said this was very well planned. It was very well orchestrated.

BROOKS: Oh, absolutely.

PHILLIPS: And he has been reported to say that he is believing this came from outside the country. He's looking at Pakistan. We still haven't been able to confirm that to this point.

But through your experience, and looking at everything to this point, from an attack perspective, your background, what are you paying attention to?

BROOKS: Well, you know, number one, look at the different locations that they hit. You know, we look at the financial district. Just like Jim Clancy was saying, it's almost like hitting the World Trade Center or Wall Street.

You know, and somebody else put it in perspective, it'd be like hitting the Ritz-Carlton, you know, in - you know, maybe a couple of hotels in New York, as well as Grand Central Station.

But if you look at this, you know, they hit the hotels when they were full of people, people dying. They hit it with speed, surprise, and violence of action.

You know, that says to me that they did their homework. They looked at vulnerabilities. They looked at places that would be relatively soft targets.

And as Jim was saying, they just took down a very, very high security profile. They just kind of relaxed that, just a number of days ago. Did they find out, OK, this is the good time to go ahead and hit, you know, because of maybe a holiday, a number of people visiting there on their holidays.

You know, was this strategically planned? Absolutely, I would say so.

PHILLIPS: And it would be very easy to sort of infiltrate this area. I mean, it's hard, when you look at the landscape of Mumbai, it's hard to distinguish who is who, because you've Arabs. You've got Persians. You've got Indians of all classes - right there at the gate of India.

You've got these ports. You've got the entryway there, right, from the waterways.

So, unless they come blazing in with guns, it would be pretty easy to kind of work their way into these hotels, into these rooms, into these areas. And boom - surprise.

BROOKS: Sure. Relatively unnoticed. You come in. If you've got a bag, you can, you know, you can hide your guns in the luggage and come in like you're just a regular tourist, because there apparently was not much security at the hotels when they arrived here.

And the head of the anti-terrorism squad there, who was killed, and some of the other high-ranking, you know, these were basically the first responders, Kyra. You know, they came in. They decided that they had to take some action, and they lost their lives taking action to try to thwart these terrorists.

And we still - but we still do not know a motive.

You know, you look at the Jewish center. Why did they hit the Jewish center? You know, and you look at the other places, you know, big icons where there are going to be a lot of people.

And that's what terrorists do. They hit places that they consider soft targets where they can have the most bang for the buck, if you will, and where there are a lot of people - hotels, train stations, those kind of things.

PHILLIPS: All right. And we are working a number of our correspondents, Mike, as you and are talking about what is happening in Mumbai, India, right now. Barbara Starr will be joining us in a minute from the Pentagon. Also, our Sara Sidner is live on the scene in Mumbai, India, there in front of the Taj Hotel.

If you're just joining us, just to bring you up to date. One attacker, we're being told, still at the Taj Hotel battling it out with law enforcement as we speak. Two gunmen still battling it out with authorities at the Oberoi Hotel.

And then you've got, as Mike and I were talking about, the Jewish center, why that being a target. Andrew Stevens there on the scene for us, talking about the fact that the whole Israeli dynamic that has always been a common target ...

BROOKS: Sure.

PHILLIPS: ... in attacks like this.

Sara Sidner will be joining us in just a second. But I'm told we do have Barbara Starr joining us live from the Pentagon.

Barbara, we know that the U.S. military has a very good relationship with the Indian military. They train a lot together.

What has sort have been the response from U.S. military on this attack? Is there any type of advisement going on, help that has been offered?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON: Well, you know, Kyra, the U.S. military and the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement community are in exactly the same position. They will offer help if the Indians request it. They would be absolutely delighted, they say. And they have a lot of capability they can offer. So far, no request from India. No official request.

So, what are U.S. officials in the administration doing on this holiday weekend? Well, they are looking very closely at this, focusing on the sophistication of the execution of this attack.

We know that a very little-known group called Deccan Mujahedin claims responsibility. But intelligence services aren't really buying that at this point, because their question is, could a single group have really pulled off such a coordinated attack against multiple targets.

So, U.S. counterterrorism officials are now speculating about two radical Islamic groups in South Asia. One is called Jaish-e-Mohammed, the other, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba - both well-known groups responsible for attacks in the past. Their goals have been to end Indian rule in Kashmir.

Now, these type of groups do rely on gunmen like we saw. And we know that al Qaeda typically goes for suicide bomb attacks. So, they're looking at how all of this unfolded, and whether these groups really carried it off on their own, or it's so sophisticated, so well coordinated, that possibly, there was some al Qaeda involvement behind the scenes. Nobody knows - Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Interesting. OK. We'll follow up on that. Barbara Starr there live from the Pentagon. Thank you so much.

I'm being told Sara Sidner has some developing information for us. She's joining us live, right there in front of the Taj Hotel in Mumbai.

Sara, first of all, can you tell us if police are still going at it with that one remaining attacker in the Taj Hotel?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT, TAJ MAHAL HOTEL, MUMBAI: We have not heard any shots at this point. That happened about 30 minutes ago, or 25 minutes ago, where we heard a loud, what sounded like a shot.

But we do have with us now a guest, who says he was inside the hotel during some of the - throughout the last 24 hours. He made his way out. And we'd like to speak to him now about what he heard and what he experienced.

His name is Deepak Datta. Thank you so much for joining us here on CNN.

Tell me what happened to you? Where were you? And what did you hear, and what did you see?

DEEPAK DATTA, TAJ MAHAL HOTEL GUEST: It started after 9:30 last night. I was having dinner. And I got a call from downstairs to immediately get up and turn all my lights off and shut the blinds, and turn my - if I have a mobile phone, to turn it on silent. So, I immediately knew something was serious.

Then ...

SIDNER: Take your time. You're ...

DATTA: ... I started getting some phone calls. And they say, oh, some people have run into your hotel. My friends, you know. Because they were showing on the TV.

Then the TV was - cable was cut off. And so, then I got a call from U.S. That's where I'm from. So, I got a call saying, oh, you know - because they have Indian channel over there.

So, they're saying, "What is showing on the Indian channel at your hotel? And there is some fighting going on."

I say, "Yes, I heard from fighting outside."

And then there was explosion. So, from that time till now, you know, I have not been able to sleep a wink.

And 7:30 this evening, I was rescued by the commandos. In U.S., like, we call them the SWAT team. So, they basically came in, and they got me out of the room. And there were about 11 people they rescued from my floor and the floor above.

So ...

SIDNER: OK. Were you - how high up were you? You were in the tower, not in the ...

DATTA: I was in the - I was not in the Heritage building, which is right over there with the dome.

SIDNER: The shorter one. You were in the ...

DATTA: The shorter one. I am - that was built in 1903. I was not in that one. That's where most of the action took place, the fires and the explosions, and all that.

And then, I was pretty higher up on my - I still have the room, so I would prefer not to give my room and floor number.

But they have evacuated us and given us other hotels to stay tonight.

SIDNER: Now, you said there was ...

DATTA: Pretty high up.

SIDNER: ... a lot of action in the Heritage Hotel. But what kind of action did you hear in your area, in the tower, that ...

DATTA: Oh, I didn't - I didn't hear anything in our side first, because a lot of killings and shootings and grenades going off. That happened in the old tower, which we could hear from our room.

Then we heard - because I had Internet. They had cut off the cable.

SIDNER: Yes.

DATTA: So, I had the Internet on. So, on the Internet, I could - and then I saw that they were showing that ...

SIDNER: But what did you hear in your tower, in particular?

DATTA: Well, in my tower, at first I heard that some people had been kidnapped and taken hostage. And they were taken on the 18th floor in the old wing. And I knew the old wing cannot be 18 floors, because it only has eight floors.

So, I say, "Oh-oh. That's my building."

And so, the - after about 15, 20 minutes, I heard heavy machine gun fire in the stairwell, right where I was. So, it looks like the commandos were basically chasing these guys, who were taking people out, because two guys, they ran up. No, two guys ran down from the hostages. So, they ran away. And they are the one who warned the police and the commandos that, in the new wing, also there are some ...

SIDNER: So, on the 18th floor you're saying you believe that the terrorists were - took some hostages up to the 18th floor.

DATTA: Yes.

SIDNER: And you could hear the commandos. There was gunfire, and there was explosions.

DATTA: Very, very loud, like constantly coming closer to me.

SIDNER: This must have been terrifying for you to live through this. DATTA: Yes, it was. But I'm - I never - I honest to goodness, I till today, till right now, I never felt that, "Oh, my God. Is this the end," or something. It was like, "Oh, wow. We are in the middle of a crisis." You know.

So, and, you know, how to secure my room, that was my thought, and call my family, speak to them, my friends. And obviously, I prayed to God, and a few times I felt a little uneasy when a couple of explosions came closer to where I was.

So, I prayed to God. But I felt a very different kind of a peace, that I am going to leave it in the hand of our Lord, and then let him guide, and see what will happen. Because in a lot of things, you know, we try to say "I, I, I." It doesn't happen, because God intends what is going to happen in your life, and you have to trust and have faith.

SIDNER: And you've made it out OK. No injuries?

DATTA: Yes, thank you. No, no. None.

SIDNER: OK. And so, just tired, because you have been - not been sleeping.

DATTA: I'm very - I have not slept. I haven't eaten anything. And I, in fact, left this area after they rescued me. So, they took me in an ambulance, because they say it's safer to be in an ambulance.

So, they took me out of this area. So I was about four kilometers away, and then I got some phone calls from the stations, TV stations, who were talking to me through all the time I was in there. So, they asked me if I would please come back.

So, if I was too much terrified, I would not have returned to this area.

SIDNER: Did you have to leave all your things inside your hotel room?

DATTA: Yes, yes, yes. We were not allowed. And it is very much understood. It's pretty common. Like I said, I also have the experience of the U.S. and here. So, over there, also, the SWAT team doesn't let you take any bags or something. They just want you out.

SIDNER: Have you seen any other people who were in your same situation and talked to anyone else who was in your wing, or any of the other parts of the Heritage?

DATTA: Yes. I heard a guy next door. He's a judge in Australia, and he's visiting over here. And I have a connecting door with him. And I could hear him.

So, I was thinking, "My goodness. If these gunshots are coming, and they are telling us not to talk on the phone, because people will know, terrorists, somebody is in some room. So, I knocked on the door. I said, "Excuse me." I said, "Could you please lower your voice, because they have said, do not talk on the phone."

SIDNER: Mr. Datta, thank you so much.

DATTA: Thank you.

SIDNER: Please get some sleep.

DATTA: Thank you.

SIDNER: And thank you for speaking to us ...

DATTA: And I want to say hi to Kyra Phillips. I listen to her all the time.

PHILLIPS: Oh ...

SIDNER: Kyra, I think that means we're going back to you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Sara, that brought us some cheers there.

SIDNER: You're known around the world, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Yes, right. Well, it's my honor. I'm glad he got out of there alive. And you give him my best and give him a big hug.

Sara Sidner there.

Well, that added a little light note to a really rough time that's been happening there overseas in Mumbai, India. It's great to hear those stories about survivors that made it out of those hotels.

On a much more serious note, there at the Taj where Sara is, there is still one gunman that's battling it out with law enforcement officials. There are also two gunmen at the Oberoi Hotel.

And then, once again, there's that Jewish community center, where we've been told there have been some hostages that have been freed. Our Andrew Stevens is there on the scene. We're going to get more from him.

We're going to take a quick break. More from India right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: And you're continuing to watch the breaking news coverage here on CNN here, based out of Atlanta, Georgia, the CNN world headquarters.

We're also bringing you live coverage from CNN-IBN, our sister network - the only network here in the United States that you will get live coverage out of Mumbai on this Thanksgiving day. Pretty tough, not only for us here in the United States, but also overseas in India, where we've seen those simultaneous attacks that happened yesterday afternoon our time here in the U.S.

It is still taking place more than 25 hours later. Overall, police say 125 people have been pronounced dead, more than 300 hurt. Explosions, fires, gunfire heard throughout the day for the past 25- plus hours to this point.

Who is responsible? A lot of people pointing fingers at this point. Is al Qaeda involved? We still don't know. Is this infighting within India? Is this an attempt to bring down the government?

All of these questions still out there right now.

Mike Brooks joining me from a law enforcement, military, hostage perspective. That's all your background, from negotiating to dealing with these kind of takedowns, when dealing with gunmen like this.

And Mike, just to bring our viewers up to date, still one gunman at the Taj Hotel, we're told, battling it out with police. Two gunmen at the Oberoi Hotel.

And then, finally, the Jewish center, the Jewish community center. We're learning more about that, still under siege at this point. It's not only a center, but there's a synagogue. The rabbi, his wife, still hold up within there.

Why a Jewish center?

BROOKS: You know, this goes to motive, Kyra. We still don't know what the motive is. We still don't know exactly what terrorist group is involved in this.

But it goes back - you know, Barbara Starr - some great information she gave us, that they're looking maybe now at two groups, possibly from there in India. But she also said, you know, we can't count out involvement with al Qaeda.

You know, I've worked a number of investigations, a number of bombings where al Qaeda was involved. And usually you see a suicide function to that. Usually you have suicide bombers. But we don't see that here.

But what we do see that al Qaeda has been successful in the past, is multiple locations, hits on different targets at the same time.

You know, and when we go and look at all the intelligence, Kyra, we're going to look at, you know, how long has this been planned? What is the group? How long has it been planned? Who is financing this particular group?

Is this an interior Indian group that might be backed and financed possibly by al Qaeda? That remains to be seen. You know, do they have some kind of fingerprint on this? We don't know.

But it's interesting, you know ...

PHILLIPS: Well ...

BROOKS: because, you know ...

PHILLIPS: You bring up an interesting point, OK. If you look at the infighting.

BROOKS: Right.

PHILLIPS: If you looked at the stepping away from India, Kashmir, Pakistan - you know ...

BROOKS: Sure. Right.

PHILLIPS: ... everybody's been talking about this dynamic - and you looked at the Muslims versus the Hindu extremists, there has been ties in the past that al Qaeda has been supporting these various ...

BROOKS: Right.

PHILLIPS: ... extremist groups. So, there would be a tie there.

BROOKS: And also, you look at, early on we heard, you know, from the Brits that they were targeting Westerners - U.S., British passport holders. And now ...

PHILLIPS: That would be an al Qaeda connection ...

BROOKS: And with the connection with ...

PHILLIPS: ... and influence.

BROOKS: ... the Jewish community center, you know, that, to me, also says maybe some ties to al Qaeda, because of the, you know, the anti-American - you know, because of their anti-American, anti-Israeli bent that they have.

You know, so, you know, is there some fingerprints of al Qaeda mixed in with this group? I'm sure we'll find out in the coming days.

PHILLIPS: All right. And you were the first to report about the FBI coming from the U.S. ...

BROOKS: Right.

PHILLIPS: ... to help out. You have not heard of this previously.

BROOKS: No.

PHILLIPS: They've never sought this type of help before. So, now, why now? And what exactly will the FBI be doing there?

BROOKS: Well, we're also hearing from our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena, that apparently their - a high-ranking official she spoke to says that there actually has been no official request, but the FBI is sending a small team.

And my sources I spoke to, they're sending them out of Los Angeles. So, it'd be just a small investigative team, because of the American - because of possible Americans being targeted. Just an investigative team with a bomb tech adviser, a bomb technician adviser, to work with the Indian authorities, along with an evidence response team forensics person there as an adviser, to also help with the scene.

PHILLIPS: All right. Now, you're experienced with hostage- takers. OK, a number of things to consider here.

At this point, when you're talking about more than 25 hours later ...

BROOKS: Yes.

PHILLIPS: ... and more than 100 people dead, is the goal to just go in there and take those attackers out any way possible? Is the negotiation part finished now? Or do you still, even 20-plus hours later, try to negotiate, try to have that verbal communication, if you've got a clear shot to take out a gunman that's holding people hostage and killing innocent people?

BROOKS: Well, you know, we really don't know what, if any, demands were made during the negotiations. And we don't know the extent that the Indian government was negotiating with them.

We're thinking that, you know, they took hostages, that they would go there, and they would try to - you know, try to intervene, and try to set up some kind of negotiation process with them. But we don't know if that was successful or not.

PHILLIPS: We haven't heard anything about demands.

BROOKS: No.

PHILLIPS: We haven't heard anything from the attackers.

BROOKS: No.

PHILLIPS: I mean, this very well could just be a 9/11, trying to send a message, not wanting anything in return but death.

BROOKS: But, you know, but then again, we saw some of the hostages being released, you know. And if that were the case, they would have gone in, and they would have separated the Brits, you know, people from the - Westerners, if you will. They would have just gone ahead and taken them out, if they were - if they were that hell-bent on destruction.

But why did they let some of the hostages go? Do they still have some hostages? We don't know. We've heard, you know, that things were over at the Taj. We heard that yesterday also that things were calming down at the Taj. What we heard from our reporters, that, no, back then, yesterday, that it was ramped back up again. And we hear now again that there's still gunfire coming from there.

So, are there ongoing negotiations? We don't know.

PHILLIPS: All right. What do we know about the Indian commandos? Because they have all types of different experience, right?

BROOKS: Right.

PHILLIPS: Military and law enforcement?

BROOKS: I'm hearing from - I'm hearing from my sources that national security guards - that's their group. It's about a 7,500 person strong team throughout the country. They're made up of the special action groups and special rangers groups. And neither ...

PHILLIPS: Is this the anti-terror squad, or is this separate?

BROOKS: No, this is their anti-terrorist squad.

PHILLIPS: This is the anti-terror squad. OK.

BROOKS: Right. And it's, you know ...

PHILLIPS: All right.

BROOKS: ... specifically to deal with incidents like this.

PHILLIPS: OK.

BROOKS: Hostage rescue, anti-terrorism, protection of VIPs. And, so, they were brought - we heard yesterday, and we saw trucks coming in - we heard early on that the commandos were being brought to the Taj Hotel. So, I'm sure that they've had a long night of fighting through and setting up some kind of tactical response inside the Taj, inside the Oberoi.

So, you know, but hopefully, it will be coming to an end.

But I've heard that it was basically the - they're drawn from the Indian army, and they do assist law enforcement. Here in the United States ...

PHILLIPS: Indian army, which trains with U.S. military ...

BROOKS: U.S. military.

PHILLIPS: ... and Pacific Command.

BROOKS: And the Brits, because their whole military was based, after the Brits pulled out, on a British model.

So, I'm hearing that their commandos are based basically on the British SAS, the Special Air Service model, similar to what they have in the U.K.

PHILLIPS: All right. And we've been talking to a number of witnesses as this all went down at the Taj Hotel, the Oberoi Hotel - a lot of them CNN employees.

BROOKS: Right.

PHILLIPS: They've put together some first hand iReports for us. Let's go ahead and take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

SONALI CHATTERJEE, CNN SALES DIRECTOR, MUMBAI: One explosion practically knocked me off my feet, the first big one. And that's when I started getting calls saying there's an explosion on the roof.

That was - I was on the phone call. And I just - I was standing, and everything shook. So, that is very, very scary.

VOICE OF WILLIAM HSU, CNN AD SALES, MUMBAI: Someone from the outside saw that the fire was very near our room, and told us that, you know, if we don't get out, that we have some fire problems, that (ph) are (ph) terrorist problems.

And we took the risk, and just went to the door. And when I opened the door, there was a lot of smoke. Could barely see anything. Had to use the light on my phone to see anything.

Val (ph) eventually found the exit, and just ran.

VOICE OF YASMIN WONG, CNN EMPLOYEE, MUMBAI: I was sort of in my room in the dark for, I don't know, six hours under my bed.

We didn't really see very much. We basically just heard a lot of gunfire and crackers, and all sorts of things.

And then, you know, towards the end of the six hours, I heard there was a fire on the fifth floor, which is above my room. So, that's basically what I heard for six hours.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

PHILLIPS: All right, well, Mike, what do we know about the Americans in these hotels?

BROOKS: Well, we do know that there were Americans in the hotels with a financial group out of New York. I don't want to give the name of the company. I don't want to put them in any jeopardy if they're still there in their hotel rooms.

But early on, the director of security for this particular company, Kyra, he had contacted the FBI here in the United States, and was basically saying, "What should we tell our people?"

And the FBI did assist them on basically hostage survival, and what to do if someone comes to the room or what not to do in the hotels. We hope they have gotten out safely, but we know in fact there were Americans in these hotels during the initial stages and while things were going on.

PHILLIPS: We are not sure about the number of attackers here. We have received various numbers, but we are estimating more than two dozen attackers so 24-plus, OK, that have coordinated this assault. A dozen or so have already been killed in these battles, these gun battles, OK. That doesn't necessarily mean it is going to be over, because they could replenish with others that could be coming in from different fronts, right?

I mean, it all depends upon how they are securing the areas, securing the ports, securing the hotels, securing Mumbai from any additional attackers that may have been waiting for fatigue, waiting for the death of these guys and move in. Or am I completely off? Could it completely end when all of these guys are taken out?

BROOKS: Well, when you think about it, with the number of locations, Kyra, that they actually attacked, 24 people is not that many as part of a group. But there is always the concern that inside as part of the planning that they put people who are sleepers inside of these hotels and maybe in some of the rooms, planted them in there. These are all possible scenarios they that have to think of while they are going through and securing.

PHILLIPS: So the plants might have already been there. The other guys come in and it is much bigger than what we think.

BROOKS: As part of the planning, absolutely.

PHILLIPS: How well -- the prime minister of India has come out and said this was very well orchestrated, very well planned. From your experience, from your perspective, how sophisticated are these guys?

BROOKS: You know, I would have to see what kinds of weapons they have and how rudimentary were the explosives that they had. We know they had grenades. What are the other explosives they had? How were they made? And I think and this is going to tell investigators a lot about who was involved in this.

PHILIPS: True, because investigators will take parts of those explosives, trace what kind they were, where they came from, I mean that's how sophisticated this is, right? I just think of the weapons being supplied by Iran into Iraq and once the authorities got their hands on those weapons, they were able to say, yes, this comes from Iran, this is why, this is the background, same type of thing.

BROOKS: Same type of thing. And that's why in Iraq and Afghanistan today, there is U.S. law enforcement over there that every time we have something happen over there, they take the information and they take all the evidence and they send that back to Quantico. The same kind of thing here. That is why they are going over there to assist them. And we also heard there was a team from the British government to include the metropolitan police, the SO13, their anti- terrorism squad, that will go there to assist the Indian government also.

PHILLIPS: 125 people dead, still three gunmen battling it out with police at two different hotels. Also, a hostage situation at the Jewish community there in Mumbai. You are watching breaking coverage here on CNN. We are going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.

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PHILLIPS: And it is just after 1:00 a.m. Friday in Mumbai. The nightmare that some are calling India's 9/11 appears to be winding down, but it is not over yet.

Here is what we know at this point. The head of India's national security guard says that three gunmen are still holed up in two of Mumbai's best-known hotels, the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi. Police are trying to get them out one way or another. Apparently they have been battling it out. We have heard the gunfire and the "Associated Press" is reporting that eight more hostages have gone free at a Mumbai Jewish center more than 24 hours after that rampage began.

Several others are being held and we are now hearing that an Israeli rescue team is on the way from Jerusalem. Overall, police say 125 people are dead from gunshots, explosions or fires across India's financial and entertainment capital.

More than 300 people, we are told have been reported hurt, and more explosions and new fires and gunfire have been seen and heard throughout the day. And though a major fire at the hotel Oberoi is out, authorities estimate that more than two dozen attackers carried out this highly coordinated assault. A dozen or so have been killed. Also dead is the chief of the anti-terror squad of the Mumbai Police.

Reza Sayah now joining us, out of Islamabad. Reza, I know you've been following this throughout the night and throughout the morning. What can you bring to us with regard to possibly who may be responsible for this?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, this is going to be a big test in the relationship between Pakistan and India. These two countries have a very fragile relationship and that fragile relationship in the coming days and weeks is going to be tested because of the attacks on Mumbai.

The fact is whenever you have a militant attack in India, even before the evidence gathers, you have analysts and experts pointing the finger to Pakistan and accusing Islamist extremists within Pakistan, even elements within Pakistan's intelligence agencies.

That speculation has already started. Pakistan's leaders are well aware of it. That's why they were quick to condemn these attacks early today. Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the attacks and he called India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh late this afternoon. CNN spoke with Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Here's what the prime minister had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YOUSUF RAZA GILANI, PAKISTAN PRIME MINISTER: It has nothing to do with this incident because Pakistan, as I have already mentioned, that we are going through the same, the same procedure. The people hit by terrorism and extremism already. I have also lost my own leader Benazir Bhutto because of this, and therefore why should it -- we are totally against it. And as a front line, we are fighting against terrorism and extremism, and that is -- we are paying a heavy price for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAYAH: So, how are these Mumbai attacks -- how are the speculation that follows going to affect the relationship between Pakistan and India? The prime minister was very reluctant to answer the question. Even so, we put the question to him, and here is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GILANI: Really hurt that more than 101 innocent people have been killed. About 270-plus people have been injured. I think this is a hideous crime and we condemn it and I think this terrorism is a menace to the whole world and therefore we have to work jointly to combat terrorism and extremism. And from the people of Pakistan, and from the government of Pakistan, I really want to share the sorrows with the people of India and the government of India.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAYAH: That was Yousuf Raza Gilani, the prime minister of Pakistan, reacting to the Mumbai attacks. At some point, the gunfire in Mumbai is going to end, and India's leaders will have to answer to the public.

They'll have to tell them exactly what happened. Many people in Pakistan are anxiously waiting to see if the leaders of India are going to suggest if Pakistan was involved. India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh already with a statement today saying that the militants were based out of the country.

Many experts and analysts are saying that was indeed was a suggestion that Pakistan was involved. It goes to show you how fragile this relationship is, and how much mistrust there is between Pakistan and India.

PHILLIPS: And Reza, I saw those same quotes come across the wires. Also a major general had told reporters that these terrorists had pretended to be Indian and came in from outside of the country and sort of infiltrated. I don't know if you heard that or not. Also, and I apologize, that the phones are ringing here, that the Deccan Mujahedeen, and what do you know about this group that has been claiming responsibility? And is that in any way tied to Pakistan?

SAYAH: Well, we have never heard of the Deccan Mujahedeen. We have spoken to terror experts here, and they have not heard of that group either. As far as rumors that perhaps these militants originated from Pakistan, we have to be very delicate in approaching this.

There have been some rumors, they are all unsubstantiated. Some rumors say perhaps they left Karachi. We have been in contact with Karachi police and there is no evidence that suggests these militants left from Karachi. So so far, it is very important to say there is absolutely no evidence that corroborates or substantiates that these militants had any connection with Pakistan. Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Mike?

BROOKS: Reza, Mike Brooks here. I was just curious. The intelligence structure in Pakistan there. Do they have any relationship at all, if they had heard any inklings about an attack like this, would they have notified the Indian authorities?

SAYAH: Well, that's a good question, and the answer is we don't know. There is a lot of mistrust. Again, I cannot emphasize enough how much Pakistan is obsessed with India, how much they are in fear that perhaps India is going to take this country over. Many are convinced that Pakistan is more obsessed with India than they are with extremists and the Taliban. So we have not heard any reports that Pakistani intelligence was aware of this attack and that is where things stand tonight.

PHILLIPS: Reza Sayah, live from Islamabad. Sure appreciate your insight. Let us know as you get new information.

Meanwhile, all three of us here brought up brought up the same question, who is responsible? Who is going to claim responsibility for all of these attacks? We have seen where the fingers are being pointed, but who will come forward and finally admit to this? Will that ever happen or will it take investigators to figure that out and that could take months and months? Meanwhile, Phil Black reports to all the theories out there at this point to whom may be responsible.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Indian government clearly has its own ideas about who was responsible for this.

SINGH: It is evident that the group which carried out these attacks based outside the country have come with single-minded determination to create havoc in the commercial capital of the country.

BLACK: Experts on India's security support the prime minister's theory. They believe the attackers were not exclusively homegrown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you're seeing is that these types of attacks are established, are networked, there's well-planned reconnaissance and logistics and financial support. It can only be from a group that is receiving international support, obviously with a domestic dimension. BLACK: Analysts say Mumbai and Westerners were specifically targeted because of the operation's ambitious goals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This time there was a multi pronged approach. It wasn't just about targeting Indians. It was an aim, but it wasn't the only one. They also wanted to go after Westerners as well. They wanted to create a lack of confidence in people traveling to India, hit at the economy, hit at the tourism industry.

BLACK: One group has claimed responsibility, the little known Deccan Mujahedeen, but security experts don't believe it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Deccan Mujahedeen seemed to be this amazing group that has come out of nowhere, that has been operating under the radar all of this time, yet able to mount such a sophisticated and well coordinated attack.

BLACK: Analysts believe it is more likely to work of another well-established outfit like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan based Islamic militants who oppose Indian control in the disputed area of Kashmir. The spokesman for Lashkar-e-Taiba says the group wasn't involved in the attacks in Mumbai and condemn them.

But the Indian authorities have blamed Lashkar for previous attacks like the 2001 assault on India's parliament, which brought the two countries to the verge of war, and the bombing of this Mumbai train which killed more than 180 people in 2006. Terror strikes have become a regular part of life across India, but whoever did this wanted a strong reaction and they succeeded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This attack in India has created a backlash which is equal to that of America after 9/11.

BLACK: The investigation may have only just begun, but already the fingers are pointing across the border to militants in Pakistan. Phil Black, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: And you know, as I get more information, Mike, from people within India and also within the military, interesting point here which I did not realize, that there have been a series of attacks elsewhere in India over the past several months, Bangalore, Assam, Delhi. So there has sort of been this drum beating and sort of this build up. So there in lies the question of where was intelligence? What did intelligence know? And is this is a huge failure for Indian intelligence?

BROOKS: Right, because as we talked about earlier with Mr. Clancy, the security is driven by the intelligence. Did they know something? Did they let the guard down? Was it a false flag that they were throwing out there? We don't know. And we still don't know -- you know, I talk about Phil Black's piece and we also talked with Reza.

We still don't know. The finger pointing again starts right away over the border with Pakistan. But we still don't know if in fact any group from Pakistan is responsible for the attack, and we still don't know what the motives of the attack is.

And you know Kyra, when you look at things, this is still relatively early on in this investigation. I mean, this is just starting. The finger pointing starts right off of the bat, but we still don't know the real motive for this.

PHILLIPS: Well, we are all over it, that's for sure, covering all of the angles. Stay with us, Mike, OK, and we are going to continue to check in with our sister network CNN IBN, out of Mumbai, India. You will not find coverage like this on any other network.

We are going to continue our breaking news coverage out of Mumbai, India, and the attacks that have taken place, going on about 27.5 hours now here out of the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Quick break, we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: And hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips here in CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Thank you for staying with us. We have been covering this breaking news since yesterday afternoon, U.S. time here. It is almost 3:00 Eastern time, 20-plus hours this has been going on in Mumbai, India.

Simultaneous attacks, gunmen still battling it out with law enforcement officials there in Mumbai at two landmark hotels. Also, a Jewish Community Center under siege at this point. A number of hostages have been freed and a number of gunmen, attackers have been killed, but this is still an ongoing situation in Mumbai, India.

Who is responsible? That is the ultimate question. Trying to figure that out now as we have all of our reporters on the scene there at Mumbai at all location. If you have any -- if you are looking for any information, you may know some Americans who have been traveling to this area. If you want any additional information that you think that might help you, the State Department is now offering information via its hotline. That number, 888-407-4747, and this is for U.S. citizens who are concerned about friends or family that may be in India.

Once again, the Oberoi Hotel and the Taj Mahal Hotel and also the Nariman House, home to a Jewish prayer center there in Mumbai. Those are the three main landmark areas that came under attack. Once again, that State Department number and information hotline being set up for anyone who may be concerned about Americans in the area. You can call that number.

Andrew Stevens is getting set up for us, now joining us on the phone from that community center that I mentioned, getting more information on it. Andrew, tell me if I am correct, we have been talking about it as a community center, but it is called the Chabad House, is that right? It is also a prayer and study center in addition to a synagogue? ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is not actually a synagogue, but it is a Jewish community center and it also a residence of the rabbi and his wife and visiting Orthodox Jews who travel here for further studies. It has got a camp in it and it can house up to six or seven families.

As far as we know, Kyra, there are all people in the center of the moment, and that is the rabbi and his wife and two guests visiting from Israel. The rabbi's young son, although he might actually be a grandson, because we are getting conflicting reports on that, was spirited out of the center this morning actually by one of the helpers in the house took the young son with him and managed to get past the gunmen and got out of the house.

So, at the moment, there is a standoff, and there are police, heavy police presence here. I have not seen military here as of yet, and the military have been conducting operations pretty much in the overall in the Taj Hotel, but we haven't seen them down here at the enter.

What I can tell you is that the place is really in a maze of streets for about a mile south of where the Taj Mahal hotel is, and it looks like a standoff that some people are saying that there may be some attempt to try to get to the gunmen.

This night is about now about half past 1 or so in the morning here in Mumbai, and we are just really waiting and seeing here at this point, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Half past one there in Mumbai. I am getting information and you can correct me if I'm wrong, tell me if any of this matches up with the information you're getting there on the scene, Andrew, with regards to the Chabad House, this Jewish prayer and study center.

Apparently according to information coming across the wires right now that these gunmen had seized the, or had commandeered rather a police vehicle which is what allowed them to easy access into the area of the Chabad House. I don't know if you've been able to confirm that or not.

And then like you were saying, we got reports of a woman and a child and an Indian cook were seen being led out of the building by police, that those were the hostages that the police were able to get to.

Now the child is being identified as the son of the rabbi, the main representative there at the Chabad House, and the child was unharmed, but that his clothes were soaked in blood. Those are the reports we are getting. Are you able to confirm any of that? Does that sound correct, Andrew?

STEVENS: Well, I can tell you that the young boy was taken out by two others. It wasn't so much as the police rescued them as that they just got themselves out. They managed to evade the gunmen in the house and get themselves out. As for the covered in blood, I haven't heard of that. I have spoke to a reporter who interviewed one of the women who was taking, who took the child out and that is the story about the blood was not mentioned.

But what I can tell you, there has been about six to eight people who have been released from a house which is right next to the Chabad House. Now the gunmen in the past few hours have been firing indiscriminately out from the house. As far as we know, there have been three deaths in that fire, two adults and one 16-year-old boy.

So the house was directly in front of Chabad House. It was in the line of fire and there have been people getting out of the house, sort of escaping from the house and police have been getting them out in the day. The last two came out only about an hour ago. I just arrived on the scene to two middle aged Indians being taken out by police.

I managed to get to them and very quickly asked them if there was anyone left in the house and anyone was hurt, and they said, no, but they couldn't or wouldn't comment on what was happening inside of Chabad House. So that is the state of the case at the moment.

PHILLIPS: So did you say that those three were killed in the gunfire or in a fire, Andrew?

STEVENS: No, gunfire. It was shooting from the house into the street. It may have been a gun battle, with police not established yet or it may just have been random firing by the gunmen out into the streets. This is a really crowded area and pretty narrow little windy roads and alleyways all through here. A lot of people live around there, so there would have been a lot of people in the area which obviously three fell victim to the gunfire.

PHILLIPS: Andrew Stevens joining us by phone there in front of the Chabad House, the Jewish prayer and study center house. Still in the middle of a standoff right now in Mumbai. We will bring you the update from there. Andrew, thank you so much. We'll also update you on what is taking place at the Taj Hotel, the Oberoi Hotel, as these terror attacks in Mumbai continue. At least 125 people killed and more than 300 wounded. More from CNN right after this.

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