Posted: November 3rd, 2009
Mumbai Massacre
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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.”

Watch a preview:

Timed for broadcast on the first anniversary of the attacks, THIRTEEN’s Secrets of the Dead: Mumbai Massacre brings viewers first-hand survivor accounts, closed-circuit footage of the chaos from within the hotels and actual words spoken by both victims and terrorists. The film premieres nationally Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). Actor Liev Schreiber (Taking Woodstock and X-Men Origins: Wolverine) narrates. Secrets of the Dead is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG – one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

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.

THIRTEEN’s Secrets of the Dead: Mumbai Massacre was produced by Electric Pictures and Furnace for THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG, Screen Australia, ScreenWest Inc., Channel 4 (UK), The History Channel UK and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Victoria Pitt is writer/director, Andrew Ogilvie is executive producer for Electric Pictures and Phil Craig is executive producer for Furnace. At THIRTEEN, Jared Lipworth is executive producer. William R. Grant is executive-in-charge.

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  • mahesh

    It was such a moving account. It just hurts to see people how people can cause so much pain and suffering and gives hope to see the survivors brought closer due to these tragedies.

  • Devi

    I’m glad it’s finally in writing and national public television that it was Pakistani’s behind the attack. The week it was happening, last year, the news was twisting the truth and focusing on the wrong things. It put Indians in a bad light, that they were blaming without merit. But really they were trying to get justice for the people that are shown in this video (and other victims).

  • a. Doxis

    This episode was unusually well done, tasteful, realistic, with moving reports from the participants. The combination of terror, courage, responsibility for others and sympathy for the perpetrators is extraordinary. Congratulations are due the film-makers.

  • Marbus

    An exceptional documentary. Please repeat the program again so that friends who had to go off to visit friends and relatives elsewhere for a Thanksgiving weekend-get-together would also have an opportunity to watch it.

  • Arti

    Thanks for the film i watched it today and could not stop my tears…..our three brave senior policeman were shot dead which on their way to the one of the sites…..people were killed with brutality……that act is unforgivable and extremely sad…….its sad and pathetic that pakistan is involved in such activities….its too sad to kill people coz of their ignorence,intolerence,and neverending hatered towards mankind….I appretiate etv for sharing this film……

  • harinder


  • anil

    In one of the instance the survivors said, that a women being shot was “smiling” at the coward (The terrorist who was shooting).
    Thanks for bringing it into the public, the episode once again brought back the difference between civilized, blissful human beings and barbarians.
    The episode was directed very well, thanks to all the people involved, in bringing this incident into lime light, I am not sure if the episode missed the incidents at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)
    “Ahimsa Paramo Dharmah”

  • akbar

    a 13 year old american girl was killed in the mumbai attack along with her father,as were four other americans.
    the attack was planned and executed by the lashkar, a terror outfit that has long been trained and supported by the pakistan army and enjoys popular support in pakistan. for one or two decades now, the lashkar has been carrying out terror attacks in india,and the mumbai attack was the biggest in india. they have reportedly attempted further attacks, which have been foiled.the masterminds are roaming about freely in pakistan, making speeches. the us ignored the lashkar for many years even after 9/11 and tripled aid to pakistan soon after the mumbai attack.since the lashkar did not attack the us directly,unlike the al-queda on 9/11, it seems there is no motivation for the us to act against the lashkar or pressure pakistan to bring those responsible to justice.pakistan has made arrests periodically,then let the suspects go after a while. india has for decades been a target of terror enforcement is weak.there were deadly incidents in ‘93. a bollywood movie called ‘bombay’ was made in ‘94 around the incidents,with touching music composed by a.r. rehman who won an oscar award last year for his music in ‘the slumdog millionaire’. the local politicians are long on speech and toughness, but there is usually little substance that accompanies the style. the security in mumbai was very lax and the city was thrown into chaos with little response for many hours. it was a shocking failure on the part of india’s security and defense,which was supposed to be a counterweight to china and has inspired little confidence. india was complacent in kargil in ‘98,and remained and still remains complacent it would seem.unlike 9/11 there were many warning signs.the lashkar has always signalled it’s intentions to attack immediate reaction when the news about mumbai broke out was that either the lashkar or jaish were responsible.mumbai remains suspect accordiing to reports, so it seems the politicians have done nothing in the last year.the incident is not been investigated by a government commission,which is strange since other internal incidents in ‘84 and ‘93 were investigated by commissions.

  • akbar

    i should have added that i first heard of the lashkar in 2001 shortly after 9/11. there was a discussion on kqed 88.5 fm radio,san francisco and the person narrating the story said that the lashkar was planning attacks in india,mainly in kashmir.

    when the mumbai massacre happened last year,it was not much of a surprise that the lashkar was the accused.

  • damaris

    its’s sad…that so many people died……..things like this shouldn’t happen at all.The episode was speechless… when i was watcing it i couldn’t believe someone could do that to innocent defenseless people or anybody.MY eyes turned fire red, tears didn’t drop they poured down.After it finished i turned of the lights and prayed.PLEASE REPEAT THIS SHOW AGAIN …

  • Shakirally

    Every tragedy has a “lesson learned” in it. It is time that India makes the world believe that there is justice and not “tyranny of the majority” by punishing well known culprits of the Delhi cold blooded carnage of Sikhs, Gujrat massacre perpetrators (Nerendra Modi & his goons), Malagaon blast perpetrators, people who are still attacking the Christians and killing them and other upper caste Rana’swho casually kill marginalized Dalits.
    The poor innocent victims who died were also human beings who lost their lives in a cold blooded way, even in a worst way as compared to the poor innocent victims of the Mumbai carnage.

  • Justice demanded

    Pakistan=Terrorist country.

  • Indiana

    How many more have to die before the Indian government gets some Viagra and starts striking inside Pakistan? What more has to happen? When will the Indian people say enough is enough?
    And yet the US continues to provide billions of dollars of “aid” to the very country that is teh epicenter of terrorism.

  • Pearl ALI

    I just posted a comment about what I heard of the conversations
    between the gunmen and their handlers.
    I did not express my outrage that this happened. I am truly appalled and sorry for all the innocent lives taken and for this senseless violence. I wish to understand better what happened.
    TO be better able to RESPOND NOT REACT, one needs to have all the facts and to hear all the story. Attacks like the horrifyingly obscene massacres in Mumbai should never be allowed to happen ever again. I feel deeply for all this needless suffering. I really mean this.

  • pearl ALI

    I posted a comment which seems not to have been published.
    In it, I outlined why I do not think that the taped recordings by gunmen and their handlers are authentic. The gunmen are said to be uneducated and from very humble backgrounds. Yet, they are heard to be speaking in well rounded sentences in erudite, pristine Urdu and not in PUNJABI, the language most commonly spoken, It would be akin to say, hearing people speak in an upper crust English accent, like an Oxford don, instead of a cockney accent….. Also, a phrase like “cream on the cake”, as in icing on the cake as heard towards the end of the documentary, does not sound natural in Urdu or Punjabi. educated or uneducated. It is not the way most people speak and not lingo of native Pakistanis.To my simple mind, it suggests perhaps this phrase is being translated from English to Urdu. My earlier comment was much lengthier explaining why I feel that the tapes between the gunmen and their handlers are a fabrication. Mysteriously, those comments are not posted. Of course, I have no proof if what I am saying is correct and wonder if other native speakers noticed the same anomalies.

  • kuzman

    would you care to perhaps send me your thorough analysis of the conversations between the terrorists. I don’t see why they weren’t published on the opinion board. My email is uefaiscorrupted[at], Please write.

    About the documentary, it was absolutely touching to see first-hand remarks by people who were face to face with the terrorists. I believe that the government of India would pay more attention to the border with Pakistan and attempt not to allow any foreign cells to infiltrate its territory.

  • Pearl Ali

    I made an error and apologise if my comment insinuates any wrong doing by any one who publishes this web site. My original comment appears on the page that gives short biographies of the hostages and film makers.I tap my messages on my cell phone. Prhaps I need glasses but simply got muddled. Yes, the accounts of the hostages are all very heartbreaking. They were all very brave. What touched me the most was that no one expressed bitterness or anger, they simply do not want this to happen anyone else

  • Sridas

    The Frankenstein’s that pakistan has created are now turning on their masters.

    I remember seeing videos of Lashkar and other terrorist organizations roaming on the streets of pakistan [Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi] weekly to collect funds for thier ’cause’ and pakistani citizens offering donations for the ‘just jihad’ on India.
    I strongly believe that when you enjoy people being butchered, that buthchery will one day knock on your door – pretty hard.

  • Rod

    Thank you for this documentary. Such immediacy to these events — the realities of terrorism, should provide more of us with clarity of how best to contend with an aristocracy of uncivilized Muslim extremists.

  • estell

    Pearl this is what it says on the credits, regarding the phone conversations ” Terrorists’ conversations have been revoiced from
    Indian Intelligence transcripts of mobile phone intercepts.”

  • pearl ALI

    Estell, Thank you for clarifying that these are not the original
    transcripts of the tapes, and a voice over. I do stand by my original comment, that “cream on the cake”is not something a native speaker would ever utter. It bothers me that they used a voice over. I want to know the truth and not to have a horrifying incident served up in a manner that may be deemed more entertaining…

  • Ramanujan

    Interesting that you allow multiple posts that are pro muslim but disallow any pro hindu comments. Interesting bias that you show. Care to clarify?

  • Shakir Ali

    This is in response to Sridas — November 29th, 2009 at 12:41 am.
    The Frankenstein was not created by Pakistan but by the US, to fight the Soviets, that was India’s buddy at that time. India is now flirting with the US, as they have more people who can consume hamburgers and drink pepsi/coke, rather than limca soda.
    Makes me think that the vision of Mr. Jinnah was so far sighted that he could envisage what will become of this country called India. Look at the racial blurs and the language used by the Indians.
    These people are killing Pakistanis now, what do you think their motive is?? Indians don’t seem to have a modus standii.


    The hostages in this documentary express no hatred or anger at their tormentors or anyone Muslim, Hindu or otherwise. Even the brave Australian woman whose husband was murdered before her eyes had no anger. The victims had tremendous compassion and mercy. No religion allows such crimes against people.
    These were people with many unmet needs. extremism exists everywhere and in every culture where the needs of people for EQUALITY are not met.. I think people need to look beyond the horror and try to understand what is really needed. I am saddened that this discussion page has turned into a hindu/muslim fight. It is insulting to all the innocents who died in this incident and others like it across the globe,

  • laurie potter

    when will massacre in mumbai be on again

  • rybak

    I can’t understand muslims? They die for a Jihad??? (Holy War) So that when they die, virgins will be laid on for them! (How ridiculous) don’t they know that when you die your physical body dies as well & only your soul (spiritual body. lives on) unable to physically touch anything let alone a virgin!!! I am wary of religions that use sex as a cause to die for. These idiots are dying after causing misery for so many for nothing!!!

  • Asim

    I liked it a lot better when it was done by HBO. PBS couldn’t even hire the right voice over artists. Guys you loose the narative when the overseas terroist sound exactly like some one from Mumbai.

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