Most in the west may see German author Elias Davidson as he describes in his own words: “an idiot conspiracy theorist”, but he defines himself as a researcher who works like a historian. Unlike a journalist who travels from place to place, he collects and analyses all the published material, all data in public domain, and the claims made by the government agencies and then attempts to discover the truth hidden behind the trove of lies. GVS team sat down with him in Islamabad, during his recent visit, and tried understanding his perspective on history since 9/11. We offer excerpts from a detailed interview. His claims and judgments are provocative. Readers are the best judge.
GVS: What made you take interest in Mumbai terrorism?
Elias Davidson: Let us begin from 2001, that is, 9/11. I believed, like many others, that it was an operation carried out by Osama Bin Laden, a war backed by Muslim fanatics who professed that they are going to punch the noses of Americans because of what they were doing in Israel and the Muslim world. To be honest, many people in the left felt a little bit happy about it that finally, someone is banging on the head of Americans – and I believed it too. I didn’t really care about 9/11; I thought it just happened.
Until a year later, a friend of mine lent me a book by Thierry Meyssan, who was a French journalist and wrote the first critical book, “The Horrifying Fraud,” on the event. The book explained that it was not possible for a plane to enter the Pentagon and there were contradictions in the official story. So, I read it thoroughly. I checked all the sources, that is, Washington Post, New York Times, to see if he was making something up. However, I realized that he had thoroughly researched and produced the book.
I was astonished that I did not know about these things. It peeked, my curiosity, therefore I went on to investigate 9/11 and I did so for ten years. Rather early in my research, I began to pose the question, ‘who were the perpetrators and what evidence was there from the American government to say that they were Islamic terrorists?’ I searched and tried my best to find evidence, but I found none. There were four categories of evidence in my research. Firstly, the names of passengers; secondly, security videos from the airports; thirdly, witnesses who saw these people at the airport or the boarding phase; fourthly, identification of their bodily remains from the crash sites.
I looked for all this information on the FBI’s website, FBI’s documentation, which was sent to the 9/11 commission, on newspapers, and in books. I combed everything I could and found not a shred of evidence. To sum it up, I documented everything in my first book published in 2013, ‘Hijacking America’s mind on 9/11’. There is a full chapter devoted just to the absence of evidence.
In the last few years, I sue everyone who dares to mention Muhammed Atta, the alleged pilot, as a terrorist or mass murderer. They have to deal with me; I will take him to court and accuse him of defamation – I am a defender of Muhammad Atta in the world. This is a strong statement, and I stand by it because I know it is the truth. I have accused 130 German journalists about it, in another book I published in Germany. I sent the journalists a letter where I stated that I would give them a possibility to retract those accusations on Muhammad Atta and apologize or provide some evidence of their assertions.
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GVS: Questioning 9/11 makes people question your credibility, how did you come around to not believing in the American statements on 9/11 in the first place?
Elias Davidson: Let me say one thing; my book was published in the United States in 2013. I commented in black and white with all the sources mentioned. The entire story of 9/11 was a lie; especially about what happened on the day, no Muslim hijackers, the two planes which had crashed were still in the air after the alleged crash time. There is documented evidence from American sources that two of the four planes were still in the air at the time of the alleged crash.
Nobody until today has challenged a single fact in the book. Why? Because there is nothing to question. This is thoroughly documented. Many people in America endorse this book. There are 14 positive reviews of this book on Amazon and zero bad ones. Anybody who is trying to challenge me, please do so. I would be satisfied because I get bored of always getting commended. Please call it wrong. I have sent letters to American professors rebut the book, but nobody takes up the challenge.
GVS: The Mumbai attack, which happened on 26 November 2008, when did you get interested in that?
Elias Davidson: After I finished this work, I began to look at other terrorist attacks, which were attributed to Al-Qaida or Muslims. I thought I’d like to see if they had the same features as 9/11, state operations and so on. I began with the London attacks in 2005. I did in-depth research on that – around 70 pages – which I published as an ebook and came to the same conclusion that it was a state operation.
There were four people, three of them were British Pakistanis, but they were not involved, and they were not the perpetrators. If they were at all involved, then they were patsies and sent with ruck sacks without knowledge of what they were doing; it was just conjecture. What is clear is that the entire official London story is a lie, so I documented it as well.
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GVS: We wonder why you don’t find the official explanations convincing? Two of us were in London on the eve of 7/7, in 2005 and we saw it developing the media reports as they poured in?
Elias Davidson: It is not a question of convincing, and you could have been in London, but that doesn’t give you an advantage over me when it comes to details. You did not go through the inquests for four years; I went through all the documents of the investigation that are available publicly. It is thousands of pages long, and I went through every sentence.
I researched in-depth like I usually do and concluded that the story was a fabrication. I don’t know which agency in the UK did it. It is possible that the New York Police department was also involved as they showed an extraordinary interest in the London affairs. They even constructed the so-called bomb factory in New York – a copy of the bomb factory from Leeds – which was allegedly where the bomb was produced.
GVS: What is so surprising about that? If an attack has happened in the UK, it would worry them that a similar attack might occur in the US, so they would simulate similar exercises to know how to deal with it.
Elias Davidson: I understand, but basically, we have the same case with Mumbai, and the New York Police Department was particularly interested in the Mumbai Attacks. They sent a delegation directly, held a conference a couple of weeks later in New York, and made simulations as if they knew everything.
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GVS: What do you think is the real reason for their interest?
Elias Davidson: Okay, we will come to it after we discuss London. Everybody interested in my research on 9/11 has to read my books to have an opinion about it. To say that I have any conspiracy theories is not a rational way of addressing anything of that kind. I am a scholar; I have published articles on International Law in the United States, UK, Netherlands, Iran, etc. So, I am not a ‘nobody,’ I am an expert in international law and human rights who has written comprehensive books about these things.
So, anybody who is to deal with these things will first of all have to read them and then can say that they do not agree. However, to call me a conspiracy theorist is like calling me a nut. It has to have a meaning; it should hurt me, but it is so stupid that it doesn’t deserve a response. Anyhow, conspiracies exist everywhere. Even a police investigator is a conspiracy theorist because every crime committed by people is a conspiracy. The term has no meaning basically and is ridiculous – it just a term to demean people.
GVS: Did you visit India for your research on the book?
Elias Davidson: No. Do you think it is not possible to study and come to an understanding unless you physically see the place? How do historians do it? If you want to write about something that happened a hundred years ago, what do you do? You go to manuscripts and documents. Nobody can charge you for not living there; otherwise, there will be no history.
A journalist, typically, is usually not at the scene of the crime. Sometimes he doesn’t even have access to witnesses. So, if you are working as a scholar and you know how to work with evidence, you don’t have to go and speak to a person. I don’t think that I will get more by speaking to somebody who already spoke extensively to the newspapers in India, ten years ago; he will now tell me another story or repeat it. I don’t know but it will not add very much to the investigation and what is already available is so much information and so helpful that I didn’t see a need and I knew that it would not add any value.
I knew that I would get closed doors with the police, even Vinita Kamte, the widow of the slain officer. She came to closed doors with the Mumbai police – people with whom her husband worked. Do you think me coming from Germany would find opened doors? Not. So, there was no point in going there. Moreover, I think anybody using that argument should, first of all, go on the merit of what I wrote. Is there something wrong in the book? Tell me because I am open to that. However, don’t judge me because I am in Germany. I can be in Germany and do better work than someone in India.
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GVS: Has the Indian government reacted to your book on Mumbai terrorism?
Elias Davidson: They have reacted like everybody else – they have hidden under the tables – no reaction. Nobody in the official governments in India or anywhere else, no media or journalist reacts to my writings. How can they do it? They can only call me an idiot conspiracy theorist. They cannot deal with the facts which are there with all the sources.
GVS: What were the key facts that attracted you to study the Mumbai attack?
Elias Davidson: I began with London and then I went to attacks in Djerba, Istanbul, etc. These were different terrorist attacks that I studied. I wanted to write an anthology on terror attacks with different chapters, including Mumbai and Bali. So, I came to the issue of Mumbai and began to work on it, just like the others. I never went to these places because I work like a historian; taking information and studying it. So, I deliberated on all of these and tried to find a common thread to compare them.
I thought the study on Mumbai would be only 50-60 pages of research, but it grew and grew to become an entire book because the information available on the issue was huge. Also, the judgment of Ajmal Kasab had a lot of media coverage, and it was a very complex operation – comprised of 8 locations. It required much effort to study the issue and became a book of 900 pages.
It took me two years of work to write it, and I did not write it for any publisher. I just went on researching and had contacts with people in India. I am very thankful to Inspector S. M. Mushrif, who wrote the first critical book on Mumbai attacks called, ‘Who killed Karkare?’ So, I got in touch with him, told him what I was doing, and he encouraged me.
My discoveries on the Mumbai operation grew and grew, and I used only publicly sourced documents. All of these documents are cited in my book, and I have cached all of them on my website in case an article in the Indian newspapers is made to disappear later on. So, in the book, I give a number to Google, which will lead directly to my website and the original document. I don’t know of any author who goes as far as that to help the reader to check his sources. I give all of the sourced documents to the reader.
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GVS: What is the significance of the assassination of Karkare?
Elias Davidson: That is very simple – nationalist Hindus threatened him because he was exposing Hindu terrorism and he was shot. He confided to different people, who confirmed that he was afraid for his life, even on the day of his murder. The current Prime Minister of India, Modi, had publicly threatened him and called him a traitor, which under Indian law is passable of a death sentence. So, he was threatened and murdered with 26/11.
GVS: What is your understanding of Ajmal Kasab, who was in Indian custody and whose confessional statement was on television?
Elias Davidson: First of all, I don’t know if his name was Ajmal Kasab because the first information we got through the Indian media was a different name, which gradually changed to Ajmal Kasab. I don’t know if it was his real name and I also don’t know who he was. He told in his stories that he was already arrested in Mumbai two weeks before, etc. Secondly, nobody from Pakistan, neither family nor officials, came to identify him personally. So, we don’t know who he was, or even the photos we have are of this guy or someone else.
GVS: There were rumors in Islamabad that Ajmal Kasab could have been a small-time spy or an infiltrator that entered India from Nepal and was there for quite some time. In his confessional statement, he spoke local Marathi; he was very fluent in the local language and hence, could not have just landed in India through the boat.
Elias Davidson: I did not look at that. Looking into that presupposes that Ajmal Kasab was legitimate and involved in the attacks. However, I don’t have any evidence for that. So, whatever he told in his confessions, which he retracted in his statements, was for me like hot air – I don’t know if he was coached. You see, someone who is held by the police has hardly any access to his lawyers and he was not interviewed by any Pakistani; how can you comment on what he said or what the police said he said. So, for me, it was all hot air.
GVS: Why do you think the Indian state was so quick to execute him?
Elias Davidson: Why should they keep him in alive? This guy was hired to play some role in these attacks by those who organized it. Maybe he was asked to be at CST, to be photographed, if he had admitted in front of people that he was asked to stand with a Kalashnikov at CST, he would have revealed the entire story. So, the best thing is to eliminate this guy.
This is what usually happens with all the so-called Islamic terrorist attacks in the west – the alleged perpetrators are typically eliminated because they do not want these people to come to court. Also, this was maybe a mistake or not, in Mumbai, but here was one case in the Boston marathon. They didn’t kill one guy, and then he was sentenced to death in America, but this usually doesn’t happen. Look at the attack in Berlin, in the Christmas market in 2016.
I wrote the first book on this attack in Germany, it sells very well and is already in the fifth edition. I showed that there was no attack at all, and it was a staged theatre. The German government accuses Anis Amri, an Indonesian guy, who rode a truck and killed twelve people. That was all bullshit. And he was murdered in Milano. The police shot him because he tried to kill the policeman. You see, all these people are eliminated before they can talk, so there is no trial. And so, the government does not have to prove the case.
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GVS: In the book, you mentioned that there was no public trial, but there was a trial, and he had lawyers.
Elias Davidson: Let us put it this way – it was a sham trial. It was a judicial farce and was not open or fair. It violated all the basic rules of a fair trial. If you look at the qualifications of a fair trial according to the international human rights law, you will see that this trial violated all the necessary provisions of a fair case and in fact, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations protested against this unfair inquiry.
So, this is not only my conclusion, but many others also considered the trial unfair, which is honestly an understatement. This judge, M L Tahilyani, should be imprisoned, in my opinion, because of how he undermined justice in India and the trust of the public. A person like this deserves to be punished. There was an appeal process, but I am sorry to say that the next levels, the Bombay Court and the Supreme Court of India, abdicated their obligation to seek the truth and justice.
The Supreme Court heaped admiration for this judge. Many years ago, I met a lawyer who was entitled to represent people in the Supreme Court of India, and he told me how the institution is fantastic. His judgments impressed me a lot, so I had a positive opinion of the Supreme Court of India, but I lost all of it after reading what they wrote about the lawsuit.
GVS: Indian position is that the trial was difficult because Pakistani government was not cooperative.
Elias Davidson: There was nothing like that. This is an argument of little standing. I will give you an example; the court could have interviewed the many people who saw all kind of things around these attacks, which contradicted the official account. However, they were not invited to testify. I have named in my book, around 40-50 witnesses who saw things which completely contradict the official statement.
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GVS: We had read somewhere that while official account mentioned the use of Kalashnikov AK 47 assault rifles by the attackers, the subsequent autopsy reports at the hospital do not indicate the use of automatic rifles. What do the autopsy reports show, how these people died?
Elias Davidson: There were no autopsies; I am not aware of any autopsy reports. An important point I think I should mention is that there were two parallel series of attacks in Mumbai. I call them domestic attacks and international attacks. The internal attacks began in the CST terminals, railway stations; they then proceeded to Cama hospital, which led to the assassinations of three officers and their assistants and continued to the synagogue on the way to Girgaon.
So, there were four attacks which we will call the domestic operation, which was concentrated and designed to get rid of Karkare. The international operations begun in the Leopold hotel touched the Taj Mahal hotel, Oberoi Trident, and the Nariman House Jewish center – four locations which were mostly frequented by foreigners. The other one was primarily visited by locals and poor Indians. So, there were two operations which had to be coordinated.
There was probably overall coordination of both operations, but most likely two command centers – one for the local and one for the international operation. The Mumbai police commanded the local operation led by Rakesh Maria. He was the key person in the local operation. I don’t know who ran the international operation, but I suspect that there were Americans involved. Now, if we go by that description, we have two operations which are coordinated by one body or one mind.
This mind must have been automatically connected to those who wanted to kill Karkare – the policeman investigating Hindu terrorism. It cannot be, that some people in Pakistan were doing their own thing, and others joined in precisely at the same time.
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GVS: Could Karkare not have been an accidental victim of the whole episode?
Elias Davidson: Exactly, this is what the official account says. However, if you look at all the details around the assassination, you will find nothing accidental. For example, police officers who were around the place at the time of the assassination got an order to stand down and not impede. They said it publicly that they were not supposed to go to that place. So, this operation was organized so Mumbai Police would not interfere with the assassination.
Another thing is that in this domestic operation, we were told that there were two people – Ajmal Kasab and Ismail – who went from one place to another and did this killing. However, this is impossible. Why? Because the shootings in the CST continued even after the Cama hospital operation began. The Cama operation started before the end of the shootings at CST and finished by the middle of the night – far longer than the assassination. So, we had at least two to three teams; one team at CST, one at Cama hospital going on until the middle of the night, another team to assassinate Karkare and a fourth team to shoot people near the cinema. So, we had at least four teams in the domestic operation, not just a few people.
GVS: So, none of the attackers, apart from Ajmal Kasab, were identified? How many attackers were there in total?
Elias Davidson: No, not at all. I have no clue. The official story says ten, but there could have been way more. You see because witnesses reported that in each location there were more attackers. In CST, people said there were three or four attackers outside the station. In Leopold, one witness said that three people were coming on a motorbike, and one of them looked European. Moreover, all of these witnesses were never identified.
I don’t know, some of them might be mistaken, but as long as you don’t go into the details and interrogate you will never find out. One attacker, Ajmal Kasab, was captured alive on the cameras with a gun and then made a confessional statement. It was said that he was captured alive, but this was not the first news. The first news was that two people were killed at Girgaon Chowpatty, through the night the story slowly changed that he was not killed but was shot; then a doctor came and said that he was never shot. So, we have these three versions about the capture of Ajmal Kasab.
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GVS: What does your research show about the rest of the nine attackers? What happened to them, their dental records, skull records, bodies, identification, etc.?
Elias Davidson: We have nothing, nothing concrete about these nine people. We don’t know where they came from; we don’t know to whom these bodies belong – we only have first names of some of them. I cannot find it because there is no information about them.
GVS: Indian authorities identified a motorboat that sunk, and they had communication intercepts between Mumbai and Karachi, the FBI had a witness, Dawood Gilani, who was American of Pakistani origin. What does your research show about all that?
Elias Davidson: About the boat, in my book, I present four witnesses who said something about it. One witness, as it was reported in the news, spoke to the police, that he saw people coming out of the boat; one person said six and another said there were eight people. However, the one who said that he saw people coming out of the boat stated something else in court; he said that he went fishing and found an empty boat.
So, there was a contradiction between what was said in court and what was said to the newspaper, so we don’t know whom he was lying to. However, in any case, his testimony got dismissed because it was unreliable. In another case, a lady said that she was taken to America, from a fishing village, to testify secretly in January. Her name was Anita, and her story is entirely surreal. She revealed that she saw six people coming out of the boat. I have an entire section on her, as it was reported in the media, both in India and abroad.
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GVS: What about the satellite communication intercepts between India and the FBI?
Elias Davidson: Do you mean the telephone calls? It’s nice that you brought that up. It is the biggest blunder of the organizers. They should have been smarter about them. First of all, the phone calls were organized by the FBI in such a way that you cannot see who called. It said that the call was made from Pakistan, but the calls were transmitted from a company based in New Jersey. A company in Delaware owns the VOIP Company in New Jersey.
The FBI intercepted all the calls and later when the investigation was to be conducted, organized an interview from the court, with the owner of the company on video. The FBI connected the court to this man in Canada, through an agent in California. So, the FBI was a central agent around the calls. They intercepted all the calls. Basically, the FBI was organizing all these things.
GVS: How can you say that the FBI was organizing this? We can argue that the FBI claims to have intercepted all the calls which were made via the internet, and telephone, and the FBI got to see all that.
Elias Davidson: Well, this is one part of it. If you focus logically, the FBI has many things to worry about. How could the FBI come to the idea of intercepting calls, in the spur of the moment, between somebody in India and somewhere else? You cannot do it unless you know. Indian witnesses said that they knew telephone numbers of the attackers before the attacks.
There was foreknowledge of the telephone numbers used by the attackers. So, the foreknowledge existed already in India, and I suppose with the FBI; otherwise, they could not intercept the calls. It is not logical. You cannot intercept the call unless you know something is going on and you are alert. All that I am saying is well-documented.
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GVS: Have you not talked to the Indian authorities after 900 pages of research?
Elias Davidson: Let me give you an example, if you have a criminal unless you have the power of an Attorney and unless you have the ability to subpoena people and to force them to come and interview, you cannot interview a criminal or a suspect.
GVS: However, the critical questions regarding the evidence, the nine attackers that were never identified, you could have raised questions to the Indian officials about the inconsistencies in the case.
Elias Davidson: Do you think, realistically, that a guy sitting in Germany will get answers from Indian authorities who are implicated in that? This is not realistic. I am writing letters every day to officials in India, to ask questions, and I never get any response. They don’t want to implicate themselves. I would have liked to talk to witnesses, but you can never reach the witnesses. I was talking to a victim (I will not disclose where she is), and she said that she went to Mumbai later and everyone was afraid to speak to foreigners. They are fearful for their lives.
GVS: Why do you think India organized this? What was the motivation or the goal?
Elias Davidson: It is clear that this was a massive and complex operation. My approach was, first of all, forensic. I did not think about motives in the beginning. I began to look for motives after finalizing the forensic part. I started with India, but also what could motivate Pakistan, United States, Russia, etc. As per my research I see several motives for India. One was to provide adjustment for increases in the budget for the military and the police; they pushed for that.
Secondly, and an essential thing, was to accelerate the buildup of a national security state or a domestic surveillance state or the big brother state in India; this was a program that had started earlier but accelerated automatically after Mumbai. As I discovered later, India may be a test laboratory for the United States, on how to create a big brother society in such a big country. So, it might have even been supported by Obama and the administration at the time, to use India as a laboratory for such an enormous national security state.
However, this is conjecture; what is not conjecture is that India is building a national security state. Third, politically, it helped to unite the Indian public around the threat from Pakistan and shift to the right for the BJP. Fourthly, this event galvanized the middle class in India, who were previously very complacent about national security; all at once they were on the streets to demonstrate for more security in Mumbai. After that, the security industry boomed.
Fifth, certain elite segments of the Indian society who had wanted to increase cooperation with Israel and the United States; benefited directly. After the Mumbai attacks, the interim minister resigned, and Chidambaram took over, and he was the key opener for the FBI to give them direct access to Ajmal Kasab, and all the information on Mumbai attacks. He opened the gates of India for American Intelligence, American law enforcement, etc. This was auto commanded, he said it himself, and the Americans confirmed it.
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GVS: Did the FBI ever make definitive judgments about the Mumbai issue? Have you ever seen anything in which they concluded black and white? Like the Dawood Gilani case.
Elias Davidson: No, Gilani or Headley is a Red Herring. It is utterly irrelevant to Mumbai. To my knowledge, the FBI did not issue a paper to cite anything directly. What the FBI did was first, they sent a team straight to Mumbai during the attacks. Second, they got direct access to Ajmal Kasab even before he got a lawyer; they interviewed him for nine hours. Thirdly, they were participants of the phone calls.
Fourthly, they organized with the New York police department, if I remember correctly, about one to two weeks after the attack, a seminar on how to cope with such an attack. Now, at that time no investigation had been released, but the FBI and the NYPD were ready with a blueprint of how it was done. And this is documented. They had a conference with people from all over the United States, to discuss the modus operandi of Mumbai. At this time, as I said, they could not have had such information because it requires much more time to investigate such an operation.
GVS: You must have heard the Indian argument that the Mumbai attacks were orchestrated by elements in Pakistan so that there is continued hostility between India and Pakistan; otherwise, India and Pakistan could have come close to each other. What is your perspective on that?
Elias Davidson: Well, this might have been one of the reasons. I don’t think that it was the primary reason. I mentioned already the motives of India; this could have been one of the reasons. However, I stand with my investigation to think that it was not the main reasons. Pakistan was only the by-product. It is handy politically, but the main thing was the domestic and economic reasons with the United States.
GVS: However, Mumbai terrorism provided the pretext for the United States and, mostly, India to declare Pakistan as a terror-sponsoring and terrorist state. And the Pakistanis have often thought that the Mumbai attacks were arranged to get Pakistan by the neck and to take it to the Security Council as a terrorist state.
Elias Davidson: Yes, this is true and absolutely correct.