Terror suspects arrested in India had photos of Mumbai Chabad center, police say


(JTA) — Law enforcement officers in Mumbai found photos of the city’s Chabad center among the possessions of two terror suspects, leading police to boost security at the building that was the site of a deadly attack in 2008.

The discovery of the photos was announced over the weekend by the Anti-Terrorism Squad in the Indian state of Maharashtra, according to Indian press reports. The photos were found a phone belonging to the two suspects, who were arrested on July 18 and are accused of planning a terror attack in another location. According to the Times of India, they are members of Sufa, an Islamist terror group. Officials also reportedly discovered explosive powder among their possessions.

The Chabad center in Mumbai was the site of a 2008 terror attack that killed six Israeli and American victims, including Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, the Hasidic emissary couple who headed the Chabad. Their son Moshe famously survived because of the bravery of his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel, who moved to Israel with him after the attack.

The 2008 attack was part of a string of terror attacks in the area by the Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba that killed more than 160 people.

“We feel great, thank God,” Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky, who co-directs the Chabad center with his wife Chaya Kozlovsky, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. He said the center attracts some 10,000 visitors per year and has full-time security. The Kozlovsky family has been in Mumbai for 11 years.

“It’s clear that from moment to moment there are people who wish us ill,” he said. “When they catch them, that feels good. When they don’t catch them, that is the problem.”

Israeli officials have faced threats elsewhere in India. In 2021, a bomb exploded outside the Israeli embassy in New Delhi with no injuries. In 2012, an Israeli diplomat’s wife and her driver were injured when her car was bombed.

Chabad centers have also been the subjects of alleged terror surveillance elsewhere. Greek police in March announced that they had arrested two men they suspected of planning terror attacks on Jewish sites, including at the Chabad of Athens and a kosher restaurant it operates. In that case, police said they suspected the men of being part of a network based in Iran, which has in recent years accelerated its efforts to attack Jewish and Israeli targets abroad.

Kozlovsky is not worried that Sunday’s announcement will significantly deter people from visiting the Chabad in Mumbai.

“The reaction every Jew should have is that you expel darkness with light,” he said. “That’s what we always try to do, to increase our activity.”

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