- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 30, 2008


President Bush on Saturday pledged full U.S. support to India as it investigates the deadly terrorist attacks in Bombay, saying the killers “will not have the final word.”

Mr. Bush spoke at the White House after returning from the Camp David presidential retreat, where he spent Thanksgiving and monitored the rampage in Bombay. The coordinated assaults left nearly 200 people dead, including six Americans, and raised tensions between India and neighboring Pakistan, two nuclear-armed rivals.

“The killers … are brutal and violent,” Mr. Bush said on the South Lawn with first lady Laura Bush at his side. “But terror will not have the final word. The people of India are resilient. The people of India are strong. They have built a vibrant, multiethnic democracy. They can withstand this trial.”

Before leaving Camp David in the mountains of Maryland, he held an hour-long video-teleconference with U.S. diplomats in India. He said his administration had kept President-elect Barack Obama informed since the siege began Wednesday.

“We pledge the full support of the United States as India investigates these attacks, brings the guilty to justice and sustains its democratic way of life,” he said. “The leaders of India can know that nations around the world support them in the face of this assault on human dignity. And as the people of the world’s largest democracy recover from these attacks, they can count on the people of the world’s oldest democracy to stand by their side.”

Those participating in the videoconference included Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; David Mulford, the U.S. ambassador to India; Paul Folmsbee, consul general at the U.S. consulate in Bombay; and members of Mr. Bush’s national security team.

Mr. Obama called Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday to offer condolences and was monitoring the situation. The attacks, which killed at least 195 people, including 18 foreigners, in India’s financial capital, ended Saturday when commandos killed the last three gunmen inside a luxury hotel.

FBI agents were en route to India on Saturday. A second group of investigators was on alert to join the first team if necessary. The State Department warned U.S. citizens still in the city that their lives remain at risk.

“The FBI continues to monitor the situation … and the Counterterrorism Division is reviewing all of the information and intelligence available,” bureau spokesman Richard Kolko said.

A previously unknown Muslim group with a name suggesting origins inside India claimed responsibility, but Indian officials said the sole surviving gunman was from Pakistan and they pointed a finger of blame at Pakistan, which vehemently denied involvement in the attacks.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, said his country is “confronting the menace of terrorism with great vigor” and called it “unfair” to blame his country “even before an investigation is undertaken.”

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi said six Americans were killed but did not release their names. Among the U.S. dead, according to information from organizations to which they belonged, were:

*Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, 29, and his wife, Rivkah, 28. They were killed in an attack on the Chabad Lubavitch movement’s center, Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin said in New York. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Mrs. Holtzberg had Israeli citizenship.

*Bentzion Chroman, an Israeli with dual U.S. citizenship who was visiting the center.

*Rabbi Leibish Teitelbaum of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was visiting the center.

*Alan Scherr, 58, and daughter Naomi, 13, of Virginia, who died in a cafe Wednesday night. They lived at the Synchronicity Foundation sanctuary near Charlottesville, Va., and were among 25 foundation participants in a spiritual program in Bombay, according to a spokeswoman for the foundation.

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