Moscow Reminds Indians Of Mumbai Terror Attacks, But Terrorists Had Different Motives In Russia

The concert hall massacre near Moscow has brought back memories of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, and parallels have been drawn between the two terrorist attacks.

A group of unidentified gunmen armed with assault rifles went on a shooting spree in the lobby of the Crocus City Hall and then inside the concert hall just before a concert by the rock band Picnic. Later, an explosion took place in the building, and a fire started.

According to the latest figures provided by the Investigative Committee, more than 130 people died in the terrorist attack. The death toll is expected to rise, the Investigative Committee noted.

Four suspects involved in the attack were apprehended in the Bryansk region and taken to Moscow, where they are now in the custody of Russia’s Investigative Committee.

Crocus City Hall is a large music venue located in the west of the Moscow Oblast.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. There has been an eerie similarity to the Mumbai terror attack, one of the dastardliest terror acts executed in India. The only thing different is the scale of the attack in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital.

When a group of 10 men armed to the teeth landed on the shores of Mumbai’s Fisherman’s colony in a small boat, they just had one aim – to kill and keep killing to the last breath. Their casual jeans and t-shirts belied their murderous plans. Most of the country was glued to their screens watching India and England cricket matches.

“The visuals (of the Moscow attacks) look quite similar to 2008. The way they enter a pre-decided spot, burst firing with bang packs on their shoulders, it was all familiar,” told Rakesh Trivedi, a Mumbai-based journalist who covered the 2008 attacks.

“The Moscow concert massacre visuals were similar to scenes that unfolded during the attack on Trident and Taj Hotels (both five-star hotels), Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal Railway Station and Leopold Café,” Trivedi added. It was the first terror attack of this scale that Trivedi had covered.

A recovered GPS device later revealed that these terrorists embarked on their journey from the Pakistani port of Karachi in a larger boat. Later, they overpowered the crew of another vessel and sailed to within four nautical miles of Mumbai. There, they transferred to speedboats and made for the shore. So began a night of terror.

These terrorists armed with automatic weapons went around the city’s landmark places, killing 195 people over the next 62 hours. They targeted high-profile places, including Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Taj Hotel at the Gateway of India, Cafe Leopold, Chabad House, Rang Bhavan Lane near Cama Hospital, and St Xavier’s College.

Each of the terrorists carried an AK-47 automatic rifle, around 500 rounds of ammunition, pistols, hand grenades, and improvised explosive devices. The ammunition they possessed proved enough for the Mumbai police and special commandos to keep them on their toes for the next three days.

The carnage began at around 9.20 pm with the first attack at the CST Terminus. Fifty-eight people were killed at the CST Railway Station in the indiscriminate firing that went on for one and a half hours. Trivedi has been unable to forget the scene of dead bodies strewn across the CST and the blood stains on the wall.

The second venue under attack was the Nariman House area, merely 10 minutes later. The terrorists blew up a gas station before attacking the Jewish Chabad outreach center. The rabbi, his wife, and five Israeli hostages were killed. Miraculously, the two-year-old child of the rabbi survived as his housemaid smuggled the baby to safety.

Leopold Cafe, another upscale restaurant, was the third target of the terrorists, who opened fire at the dining crowd almost at the same time as the attack at the Nariman House locality. Later, the terrorists made their way to the iconic Taj Hotel while planting bombs in taxis on the way.

Oberoi-Trident Hotel was the last site to be attacked by the terrorists around the same time as the Taj. The terrorists entered the hotel through the restaurant and started pumping bullets into the gathered crowd.

“Initially we were counting the number of grenades outside Taj, later the number went beyond counting and we stopped counting. The way they set the Taj on fire is still etched in my memory. You could hear cries for help from the hotel windows. Few of the guests were rescued by the staff from the back gate,” Trivedi described the attack.

File Image: ISIS Terrorists that attacked Moscow

For him, the post-attack coverage of the investigation and chargesheet and Kasab Trial was more shocking in terms of understanding the detailed planning by the terrorists.

Only one terrorist, Ajmal Kasab, could be captured alive. He was apprehended by a Mumbai Police constable, who held on to the barrel of his rifle, and this gave the police team time to capture him. He was tried and sentenced to death in May 2010. Kasab was hanged at the Yerawada jail in Pune in November 2012.

“This is the key difference between the Mumbai terror attack and the Moscow attack. Kasab and nine others never intended to return. They wanted to kill a maximum number of people before getting killed,” Trivedi summed up.

Contrary to this, the Russian security agency has contended that the attackers in the Moscow massacre had contacts in Ukraine and were driving to the border. They intended to escape after committing the terror attack.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said “miserable” Vladimir Putin waited overnight before publicly addressing Russians, only to accuse Kyiv of being involved in the terror attack.

US Vice President Kamala Harris and the White House National Security Council said there is no proof that Ukraine is behind the Moscow attack.

“There is no, whatsoever, any evidence — and in fact, what we know to be the case is that ISIS-K is actually, by all accounts, responsible for what happened,” Harris said in an interview with ABC News. “What has happened is an act of terrorism, and the number of people who’ve been killed is obviously a tragedy, and we should all send our condolences to those families.”

National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said: “In early March, the US government shared information with Russia about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow. We also issued a public advisory to Americans in Russia on March 7. ISIS bears sole responsibility for this attack. There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever.”

  • Ritu Sharma has been a journalist for over a decade, writing on defense, foreign affairs, and nuclear technology.
  • The author can be reached at ritu.sharma (at)
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