On TV: Mumbai Massacre

Back at the beginning of the month, I talked about the terror incident that took place in Mumbai, India, where members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist organization, attacked the Taj Mahal Palace hotel and other sites in the city formerly known as Bombay between November 26 and November 29, 2008, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308. In the March 1 post, I identified a good resource related to that 2008 attack- the 2010 BAFTA award-winning HBO documentary film Terror in Mumbai.

There is another documentary I know of that provides tremendous insight as to how an “American Mumbai” could go down. From the “Secrets of the Dead” area of the PBS website:

Mumbai, November 26, 2008. What began as a typical day in a bustling, cosmopolitan city turned into a horror-filled 60 hours of orchestrated chaos when terrorists infiltrated the city and rampaged through the train station, cafes, a Jewish center and two of India’s most famous five- star hotels. As police struggled to coordinate a response and journalists clamored to cover the story from the streets, victims trapped inside the hotels began making contact with the outside world using cell phones, text messages and Twitter. Their urgent and heart-wrenching messages begged for information and painted a gruesome picture of indiscriminate killing, unfettered brutality and mass confusion. But the victims weren’t the only ones communicating with the outside world. The terrorist leaders in Pakistan were watching the coverage of the attacks on the news and relaying crucial information about the whereabouts of the victims back to their operatives on the ground.

“This film offers an unprecedented, inside view into the attacks,” says Jared Lipworth, executive producer of Secrets of the Dead. “It not only reveals how the victims and terrorists acted during the massacre, it highlights how consumer technologies and social media gave the victims a chance to survive, while also putting them directly into the line-of-fire of the terrorists who were hunting them down.”


“Secrets of the Dead|Mumbai Massacre|PBS”
YouTube Video

Actor Liev Schreiber narrated the production. However, the PBS site noted:

Told completely from the perspective of the victims, Mumbai Massacre places viewers inside the maelstrom, where they become witnesses to the critical events and decisions that meant the difference between life and death. Incredible stories include: a Muslim architect and his wife who were forced to watch as two different groups of hostages were executed at their feet; a tourist whose husband died in her arms as they were shot trying to escape; an American cameraman whose mother in Texas texted him a map of the hotel; and a married couple who split up during the chaos to increase the likelihood that at least one of them would survive to take care of their children. The film also reveals the remarkable heroism and dedication of the hotel’s staff, documenting a restaurant manager who returned to the hotel to take care of his guests, and cooks who gave up their own lives to keep the terrorists away from their hidden visitors.

Like HBO’s Terror in Mumbai, Mumbai Massacre was put together well and very informative. More important for us, it presents a picture of what an “American Mumbai” could look like, and offers up ideas that might increase one’s odds of survival in similar circumstances.

I caught the documentary film on the local PBS station some time ago as part of the “Secrets of the Dead” series. Maybe you can too. Otherwise, Mumbai Massacre is uploaded on YouTube here.

(Editor’s note: Link added to SPTV and “Resources” page)

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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