Reports: Mumbai Attackers Took Coke, LSD, and Steroids; Wore Versace; used GPS and VOIP

(Image above by keerthi). Today marks one week since the attacks in Mumbai that killed and injured hundreds (BB post #1, BB post #2). Skimming headlines this morning in the Times of India, the post-attack narrative has now turned to the possibility of punitive strikes on Pakistan by India, with some Indian media implying US support -- things could get a lot scarier, fast, given that both nations have nukes. US Secretary of State Rice just arrived, and on this same day, they've found bombs in the Mumbai train station that was an attack site.

One of the other aftermath stories I've been following: what tech devices the attackers used to orient themselves and coordinate communications before, during, and after the attacks. VOIP phones, SIM cards, and Garmin GPS units, among them. Some of this information is apparently the result of interrogation with the one known surviving attacker (God only knows what methods they're using). All of this first circulated in Indian tabloids. I'm not sure of how reliable any or all of it is. But here's a snip from a possibly-more-reputable-than-others source, caveat lector, etc.:

[T]he terrorists who carried out the rampage in Mumbai procured with ease five cell phone SIM cards -- three of which were being purchased from Delhi's Karol Bagh area while the rest from West Bengal's 24 Parganas district, interrogation records of the only arrested ultra have revealed.

Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman has told interrogators that right through the fighting, the Lashkar-e-Taiba headquarters in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir remained very much in touch with them, frequently calling their mobile phones via a voice-over-Internet service.

The government last year imposed strict rules on the issuance of SIM cards by cellular services operators following the Mecca Masjid blasts in Hyderabad in May, where terrorists had copiously used cell phones to trigger improvised explosive devises and send text messages to their handlers in Pakistan.

Here's another account:
Each man was equipped with a Kalashnikov rifle and 200 rounds of ammunition and grenades. The group also had at least one state-of-the art Garmin global positioning system set, and several mobile phones fitted with SIM cards, which have now been determined to have been purchased in Kolkata and New Delhi. Three men had larger bags, packed with five timer-controlled Improvised Explosive Devices.
Over at WIRED Danger Room blog, Noah Shachtman has two must-read posts up about post-attack analysis, including insight from Bruce Schneier: Mumbai Terrorists Used Pirates' Tactics, and Sorting Fact From Fiction in Mumbai Attacks.

More about the attackers, who were apparently men in their early twenties, from Pakistan: reports circulating (which we at BB can't verify) say they took large amounts of cocaine and LSD before and during the attacks to stay awake, in an altered state of consciousness. And, they apparently worked out a lot as part of a training bootcamp program in Pakistan, taking steroids to build muscle mass.

And, a random, weird thing: one attacker captured alive by the Indian authorities is shown below in a CCTV camera still. Remember how Indian TV news was reporting that his shirt read "CRSA," speculating that this was some new terror organization, when the attacks were taking place? Well, take a closer look. That's "VERSA", with the rest of the word cut off -- is it "VERSACE ?" Presumably a knockoff tee, common throughout India (and the rest of the world), but still -- they wore Versace. Loren Coleman has more, and reminds us of an obliquely resonant factoid: the Versace design label's founder Gianni Versace was killed by a psychopathic murderer.


  1. It’s probably a just a shirt that says Versace rather than a real Versace. Fake branded items are very common in Asia.

  2. @#1, I couldn’t find any screengrabs of that station in India that had the unambiguous “bloodspatter” broadcast template, but it was a doozy.

  3. @#4, the point is you can buy SIM cards on the street, and there are laws in India regulating such sales because their use in timing devices is known.

  4. If they took ‘large amounts’ of LSD, they wouldn’t even be able to hold a gun much less aim and shoot it.

  5. Do you mean cell phones as timers/triggers? Surely the SIM card sales are controlled to aid government communications surveillance but the explosive triggers themselves rely on the traditional alarm function or call ringer? Considering these killers were on a one way mission,I’m surprised they wouldn’t have used old wind-up alarm clocks for that matter. I do note SIM cards sometimes survive explosions and are a source of evidence.

    In any case, Indian police and intelligence will be guided by politics in their investigation and we can dismiss any published findings as unreliable.

  6. Yeah, I can’t imagine any amount of coke balancing out LSD. Maybe there’s some super secret terrorist training ground where elite soldiers go to train under heavy doses of various narcotics. Like a psychedelic boot camp, man.

  7. or maybe Indian politicians pandering to an uninformed and excitable public chose the scariest, crazy-loony-drug name they knew. Ah yes, I can just see a jihadi tripping. “Oh wow man,look at the pretty muzzle flash!”

  8. countdown to the worldwide War On Piracy…

    every new day, some news outlet attaches another “item” the terrorists used that does nothing to boost any sort of concentration or effectiveness.
    yeah, that helps you focus and (bonus!) really aids your team in accident reduction.

  9. First of all, I am not going to take the presumed (with a capital P) word of the only, currently being tortured, surviving member of this group.
    Secondly, I can handle muslim extremists wearing Versace, but for them to use copious amount of cocaine, LSD and steroids?!
    Maybe they watched kinky porn and had a little SM action on their way over in their rubber dinkies. You know, just to stay awake.

  10. #6 I had the same reaction when Xeni replied to one of mine…she has that effect on people. I think it’s because she is from the Future!!

  11. Well, they say every cloud has a silver lining–maybe now they will make wearing shitty designer knockoffs a crime that gets you sent to Guantanamo. :(

  12. happily, they are resorting to the use of sodium pentathol to get to the “truth”. Really, it would be a lot quicker and cheaper just to shoot the beggar and then print whatever confessions required.

  13. I can see the “LSD-cocaine” aspect being true, though it may not be. Look at that guys eyes: sure it could just be the fervor of twisted religious ecstasy, but that doesn’t rule out drugs too. Being “hopped up” like that would ensure the reckless behavior needed to create the chaos they desired.

  14. LSD and murder aren’t always mutually exclusive. It’s actually easy to imagine how someone who thought they were following god’s will would be able to commit a murderous rampage on a little bit LSD. A low dose might heighten the senses and make the battle seem more…I don’t know…apocolyptic or even spiritual…I agree that a high dose would probably render your fighter useless though.

    1. @theremoteisland, yeah, I’d heard that also and I looked at a few variants of UNIVERSAL and VERSACE. My money (such as it is) is on VERSACE. But I could be wrong.

  15. Taking large amounts of LSD wouldn’t leave you in a state where you’d be capable of doing much of anything. In a situation like that with gunfire and people screaming they’d be totally overwhelmed.

    1. @skullivan: Maybe small amounts of LSD and lots of coke? I can imagine it. But as I said, who knows how accurate any of this is. Could all be totally fabricated by Indian police/counterterror guys.

  16. Let’s try and put all this in perspective here.

    We’ve just seen an inceredibly violent attack of, what appears to be, a bunch of muslim extremists from Pakistan on one of the most important city centres of India. India, as we know, has a mixed hindu and muslim population which, quite frequently, experiences outbursts of religious violence.
    Now, one of the key objectives for the Indian government at this point in time, is for this occurance not to result in another widespread outburst of domestic violence. So it is very much in the interest of the Indian government to divert the issue from the religious aspect onto other aspects which may have contributed to this attack.
    Now, proper muslims do not use drugs of any kind. To make the claim that the attackers were under the influence of drugs, gives the muslim leaders in India another reason to condemn the attackers, and gives more credence to a claim that they were not ‘proper’ muslims.
    I know this all sounds like bent up shit where you are sitting, but that is how stuff goes down in that part of the world.
    It would mean, for instance, that the bodies of the attackers may be denied the right to be buried on a muslim burial ground, and that is important, because it would prevent an event to spark further unrest and possible ourbursts of violence.
    So this is all part of damage control. The attackers were not so much a bunch of religious fantatics (or martyrs, depending on your perspective), no, they were a bunch of steroid pumped up maniacs strung out on all kinds of drugs. And who could ever have any sympathy for those?

  17. The last time Xeni replied to me, she called me “silly”. I could have died.

    Anyhow, moving right along: while I wouldn’t be surprised if the surviving attacker had been brutalized a little, I don’t know if we can take for granted that he’s only giving up this information because he’s being tortured. Given that so much is coming out so quickly, it doesn’t seem that it’s being wrenched from him drop by drop.

    1. @Nelson.C., I don’t know about that. FWIW, there are reports now that the FBI and Israeli intelligence services are “helping” the Indian government with the interrogrations. The use of force in such circumstances doesn’t mean information will come out any faster or slower, per se. I don’t mean to derail the whole discussion into “are they being nice to him or not,” but just as a point of clarification: we really do not know anything about the interrogation methods, and whether they involve torture, and whether this information is reliable whether or not the interrogations involved force. I’m not trying to solicit sympathy for the man, just pointing out a fact about the information (i.e., that we don’t know much fact at all).

  18. What impresses me is that there were only – what? – ten of these guys, and look what they did.
    As to LSD IIRC US army tests showed that it was too unpredictable in its effects to be an effective battlefield “incapacitant” – many soldiers became useless, but some became very very good at what they were doing, once the doses hit. So some of the enemy get better than what they otherwise would have been, while others get worse. Too unpredictable.
    I presume that its use would have a similarly unpredictable result if used as an “capability enhancer”. Considering the micro size of the typical LSD dose, is there any post-mortem tests to determine if LSD was ingested by the deceased, anyway? IIRC there’s some controversy over the accuracy of post-mortem cocaine testing, too.
    More generally, this kind of small-force attack on an urban area will ever be (and ever has been, though formerly the weapons used were of less power) a possibility, possible anywhere, I’m afraid. The force needed is too small, the capabilities needed are too widespread, for the threat to be always contained.
    But fortunately, ultimate success for the perpetrators of these sorts of purposeful tumults has been shown by history to be very very rare, almost unheard of.
    Still sorry to hear about this stuff.

  19. The Indian police are so used to interrogating high government officials and movie stars in murder cases, they’ve probably forgotten how to deal with regular people.

    As to the quest for truth, remember the “pirate ship” that the Indian Navy blew up a week or so ago? Turns out they blew up a Thai fishing trawler that was in the process of being boarded by pirates while the pirates got away on their speedboats. The Indian government’s response was, “No. No we didn’t. Nope, not possible.” India doesn’t really do truth and justice very well.

  20. Xeni, without having a drop of sympathy for the guy, I hope that the Indian police, the FBI and the Israeli “experts” aren’t treating him too brutally. He is, after all, their only intelligence source for this action, and still needs to be brought to trial. And besides, as you know, torture is wrong, whoever it’s applied to.

    1. @Nelson C. I agree completely. Torture is always, always wrong and harmful to the greater cause. And good intel rarely if ever comes of it, anyway.

  21. Yikes that’s a terrifying couple of images at the end there. I’d heard the attackers were young, but I hadn’t actually seen pictures yet.

    I cannot not imagine those kids saying ‘Pwnd! Lololol!’ as they carved their way through the crowd.

  22. this is one of those instances where the truth really does not matter. Indian politics and Indo-Pakistani relations and well as global power politics will do the driving here.

  23. I confess I cannot see what these dudes were hoping to accomplish – in a political sense, in any sense, that would make sense.
    “Attack for the sake of attack”? WTF?
    What were they trying to gain? For whom?
    As to being denied burial in consecrated ground, sheesh, who cares?

  24. For those of you that don’t know the History of LSD and combat training should research MK Ultra.

    If its presence / use by these Terrorists is accurate, then you can bet that they were “Controlled Assets”

  25. Coke, LSD and steroids?
    I’ve seen people on steroids act mighty crazy, and I can sort of imagine someone on coke being quite aggressive – but LSD?

    Sounds like some half-baked attempt at merging The War Against Terror with The War Against Drugs.

  26. @everyone that @’ed me

    I know, it’s awesome, she’s like a real live talking person, and she’s totally stolen my heart.

  27. Coke, LSD and steroids?
    I’ve seen people on steroids act mighty crazy, and I can sort of imagine someone on coke being quite aggressive – but LSD?

    Sounds like some half-baked attempt at merging The War Against Terror with The War Against Drugs.

  28. The connection to the Somali pirates is sensationalist tripe. Oh, they used one boat as a launch point of their other boat in an amphibious assault? Just like those pirates!! Or, just like the Navy SEALS and just about every other commando style amphibious operation, right?

    The LSD/Cocaine source article is also poorly cited and contains a lot of falsities.

    This all wreaks of press sensationalism, to me.

  29. @40: the refusal of the Muslim community to accept their bodies for burial is very important. It may save Muslim lives in India.

  30. In the picture of the surviving terrorist he is clean shaven; a Muslim engaged in Jihad would have grown out his beard. He also has a $100 haircut; too decadent for Islam.

    It can also clearly be seen that he is wearing an orange wrist band; orange is the color for Hindu fundamentalists in India.

  31. I think we’ve all seen this…

    Skepticism towards the LSD report seems pretty well founded at this point. There are a lot of psychoactive chemicals out there that would be much more suited to fueling an insane psychopathic killing spree, but LSD has a lot more brand recognition. Until more solid evidence exists, I’m in the chock-this-up-to-sensationalism camp.

  32. why the surprise about LSD ? it’s just another yahoo drug as far as i’ve observed, with no guarantee of any enlightened state or particular sensitivity.

    set, setting, and the proclivities of the taker.
    hunter s. thompson sort of proved this, right ?

  33. Why would they take LSD, having planned this attack so carefully? Makes no sense. Just stupid journalism, without a doubt.

    But hold on – if they took illegal drugs, that means that all takers of illegal drugs are potential terrorists, doesn’t it!?

  34. now, the original Assassins… though I don’t think the drugs were operational. Drugs and battle do go together though; American pilots on speed bombing Brits, Zulu warriors a century ago, everybody in Viet Nam. Depends if you are trying to stay sharp, increase blood lust, kill fear, send your mind elsewhere or are just fucking crazy.

  35. #55: I sure hope they weren’t loaded. “The efficiency of the rocket launcher was also very impaired.”

  36. years ago i worked with a vietnam vet who was on the front lines for two tours of duty. he told me he was tripping on acid ALMOST EVERY DAY. fear, adrenaline, and training seem to be effective antidotes to reverie, silliness, and revelation.

    i’m still amazed by psychedelic advocates who think everyone should trip. our relatively luxurious settings and backgrounds may make it easy to space out into cosmic reverie, but i’ve seen a lot of plain old yahoo fratboy partying with psychedelics and there didn’t seem to be any interest in the deeper implications of the experience or sensations.

    these guys were just doped, amped, and well trained, regardless of the chemical formulas.

  37. I keep hearing that this atrocity was well-planned, but it seems to be true only for low values of “well-planned”. The attackers had money and false IDs, presumably for the exfiltration phase, but that phase failed to happen.

    It could be that while the attackers had a plan for exfiltration, it wasn’t followed up at command level, leaving them high-and-dry, as at the Bay of Pigs. It could be that this had been the intention all along.

  38. remember when they actually measured it in micrograms and it actually was LSD-25? And when it came on sugar cubes and was legal? Hear the Dutch banned mushrooms – that’ll keep the terrorists out.

  39. @ #59 Cherry Shiva – the drug is only as good as the state of mind. Go tripping in a shitty mood, have a shitty trip. William James said he could only understand Hegel while tripping on laughing gas, but Maslow would have told him that he’d have that epiphany eventually, whether he was actually high or just felt that way. But I digress.

    I can understand the acid (if it’s true), because it truly alters one’s state of consciousness and lowers inhibitions, to a degree. It seems to me that they thought it would make the killing easier. What I haven’t seen is any mention of hashish. This seems a traditionally more likely suspect than LSD.

    Whatever the case, the entire attack is beyond my scope of comprehension. It’s sickening, frightening, and no one seems to be able to figure out who is really behind it.

  40. I don’t believe the servants of the Old Man of the Mountain used hash on the job. The time-release opium/hash/sedative pill was for induction and final brainwashing, not work. Considering most Assassins posed as servants to get close to the target,I doubt they could have been ripped all the time.

  41. “We found injections containing traces of cocaine and LSD left behind by the terrorists and later found drugs in their blood,” said one official.”

    Ummm people inject lsd now? It only takes like one drop to get the desired effect… although I suppose it’s quicker if you inject it?

    But yeah, it is more likely to make them useless.

  42. Hey synthesizing LSD is no joke, it is not easy – a lot of what frat boys are “tripping” on ain’t LSD.
    As to use in battle, nevertheless some people can do tasks just fine on LSD – better than they function straight, in fact. Others can’t. As to what other mind-f*cking chem cocktails the spooks have come up with, who knows?
    But there is a lot of “LSD” and “Acid” going around, that is not really LSD. Hate to bring y’all down.
    IIRC the USA locked up its best underground LSD chemist recently for 99 years. Good LSD is not that easy to come by.

  43. Is there a readily available test for “traces of LSD”? Really? I mean other than licking it up and seeing what happens?
    And LSD is skin-absorbable…no need to ingest. The Dead used to try to dose Graham with doorknobs, fer cryin’ out loud.

  44. I think the whole “LSD” aspect of this can be ignored as far as discussing the terrorism. This would be the smallest of lies flying around right now.

  45. In sum, I believe that the use of “battle ability enhancement” drugs is possible by the attackers, and if so most likely cocaine and/or (meth)amphetamines were used. The use of LSD for battle on orders would be weird, perhaps a first ever documented such use, if true. On the other hand hashish use would be nothing new, although again if under orders its use seems strange considering the drugs “draggy” effects, not so good for battle.
    But the primary users of drugs to enable better combat is still the US Armed Forces, I think. Specifically the US Air Force, but a runaway military budget with two wars in progress leaves room for lots of experimentation.

  46. I still have problems understanding the strategic motivation behind the attack.
    Right now I’m leaning to “group nut-bar-bar-ism”.
    A group of attackers attacking to cause death and confusion. Full stop. No motive, no rational motive, that I can see. Helping a cause? I just can’t see it.
    OTOH it’s nice to see India becoming an ally in a war on terror…what with the US Navy having shall we say a presence in the Arabian Sea just now…just off the coast of India/Pakistan/Iran.

  47. Hmmmm. Why are phrases like MK-ULTRA and Manchurian Candidate running through my head now?

    Seems that up to 5 handlers may be missing, judging by supposed evidence on the boat. Yet other reports, and from Israeli media too, show the terrorists to have been staying at the very Jewish Center that was attacked for 2 weeks…

    Something is very very odd about this all.

  48. a tactical nuke explodes in the Kashmir. India and Pakistan blame each other. Analysis indicates it is of Russian manufacture,seeded with stolen Chinese origin tell-tale trace amounts of nuclear explosion by-products.

  49. LSD? Really? To stay awake? That sounds like somebody’s attempt to further demonize the attackers (as if the terrorism wasn’t bad enough).

    @59 – LSD won’t work every day. Further dosing beyond the initial dose will return diminished effects. Eventually the effects are nil without a recuperative period.

    LSD can be tested for in the fluid of the spinal column. Everybody doesn’t know that? It hangs around a long, long time.

    @67 It’s mescaline that’s widely faked, not LSD.
    It’s ludicrous to believe there are only a few people who know how to make it. Have you ever been to Berkeley?

  50. Taking LSD can be wildly different from trip to trip, obviously “good trips” or “bad trips”, so you can’t dismiss the LSD idea here simply because it would incapacitate the terrorists– it didn’t seem to incapacitate the Manson family. PLUS the addition of something like coke or speed changes things too– Doc Ellis pitched his infamous no-hitter on a mix of acid and speed. . . so. . . .

    As for religious laws prohibiting them from taking drugs, well. . . religious people can always find a way to justify breaking their own rules in the name of their god. “Thou shalt not kill” is broken all the time by Christians or Jews with a “higher purpose”.

    Maybe it’s bunk, maybe not, we may never know the truth.

  51. >Some of this information is apparently the result of interrogation with the one known surviving attacker (God only knows what methods they’re using).

    India is an unabashed user of what they call the “Narco Test” – what American’s called truth serum before we decided such things don’t actually work.

  52. Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that the terrorists strategy seem like it was culled from the Chuck Norris movie “Invasion U.S.A.”?

  53. seems more cyberpunk. designer drugs and trendy gadgets. too bad it wasn’t contained within a virtual playing field. tragic, stupid, and ominous. the future looks violent. sigh. let’s prove otherwise.

  54. #35 posted by Takuan

    ‘little bastards are heading for the dung hill, it seems’

    yeah – i wonder if there’s a post-mortem way of ensuring their ‘souls’ are ensured a ticket to ‘hell’ according to the muslim theology; a bit like the hang/draw n quarter ’em medieval christian approach. that would make others think twice.
    i always return to this when contemplating such individuals:

  55. ah, almost worth believing for. I’m pretty sure a defiled burial has long been a threat used against various religious types for as long as there has been religion.

  56. muslim suicide bombers are unaffected by defiled burial. They rationalize around it and this is confirmed by islamic authority. At least the religious authority they defer to. If you’re stupid enough to buy into the idea that god is served by murder, you are unquestionably stupid enough to believe in special exemptions for yourself. That’s why they prefer children and the slow-witted and uneducated.

    If Islam in general were serious about stopping the radical loonies using their name, they would be doing everything in their power to create the meme at early childhood level that “martyrs” were laughable morons and objects of contempt. Obviously the message must come from Muslims.

Comments are closed.