Ex-Taliban spokesman threatens second attempt on Malala’s life

Sun Online Desk

24th February, 2021 05:13:30 printer

Ex-Taliban spokesman threatens second attempt on Malala’s life

A former leader of the Pakistani Taliban has recalled an assassination attempt on Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai nine years ago, and tweeted that next time there would be no mistake.

Twitter on Wednesday permanently suspended his account with the menacing post. The threat prompted Ms Yousafzai to tweet herself, asking both the military and Prime Minister Imran Khan to explain how her alleged shooter, Ehsanullah Ehsan, had escaped from government custody.

Ehsan was arrested in 2017 in Pakistan, but escaped in January 2020 from a so-called safe house where he was being held by an intelligence agency. The circumstances of both his arrest and escape have been shrouded in mystery and controversy.

Since his escape, Ehsan has been interviewed and has communicated with journalists in Pakistan via the same Twitter account that carried the Urdu-language threat. He has had more than one Twitter account, all of which have been suspended.

The government is investigating the threat and had immediately asked Twitter to shut down the account, said Raoof Hasan, an adviser to the prime minister.

Ehsan, a longtime member of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan as they are known, urged Ms Yousafzai to come back home because “we have a score to settle with you and your father”.

The tweet added that “this time there will be no mistake”.

Ms Yousafzai, who has set up a fund that promotes education for girls worldwide and even financed a girls’ school in her home in the Swat Valley, called out the government and the military over Ehsan’s tweet.

“This is the ex-spokesperson of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan who claims the attack on me and many innocent people. He is now threatening people on social media,” she tweeted.

The charges against the former TTP leader include a horrific 2014 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar that killed 134, mostly children, some as young as five years old.

He also claimed responsibility for the 2012 shooting of Ms Yousafzai in Swat Valley. In the attack, the gunman walked up to Ms Yousafzai on a school bus in which she was travelling, asked for her by name and then fired three bullets. She was just 15 years old at the time and had enraged the Taliban with her campaign for girls’ education.

Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, a teacher, ran a school in Swat Valley for boys and girls. In 2007, when the Pakistani Taliban took control of the area, they forced girls out of schools and ruled with a brutal hand until 2009, when they were driven out by the military in an operation.

During his years in military custody, Ehsan was never charged. Authorities also later never explained how he left the country and travelled to Turkey, where he is believed to be living today.

(Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2021)