Taliban's letter to Malala Yousafzai: this is why we tried to kill you (The Guardian)

A senior member of the Pakistani Taliban has written an open letter to Malala Yousafzai – the teenager shot in the head as she rode home on a school bus – expressing regret that he didn't warn her before the attack, but claiming that she was targeted for maligning the insurgents.

Adnan Rasheed, who was convicted for his role in a 2003 assassination attempt on the country's then-president Pervez Musharraf, did not apologise for the attack, which left Malala gravely wounded, but said he found it shocking.

"I wished it would never happened [sic] and I had advised you before," he wrote.

Malala was 15 when she and two classmates were targeted by a masked gunman who picked them out on a school bus as they went home from school in Pakistan's northwest Swat valley last October.

She was seriously injured in the attack, and was flown to Britain to receive specialist treatment from doctors in Birmingham, where she and her family now live.

Last week, she celebrated her 16th birthday by delivering a defiant speech at the United Nations in New York, in which she called on world leaders to provide free schooling for all children.

In the letter, Rasheed claimed that Malala was not targeted for her efforts to promote education, but because the Taliban believed she was running a "smearing campaign" against it.

"You have said in your speech yesterday that pen is mightier than sword," Rasheed wrote, referring to Malala's UN speech, "so they attacked you for your sword not for your books or school."

The rambling four-page letter, in patchy English, citing Bertrand Russell, Henry Kissinger and historian Thomas Macaulay, was released to media organisations in Pakistan.

In it, Rasheed – a former member of Pakistan's air force, who was among 300 prisoners to escape jail in April last year – advises Malala to return to Pakistan, join a female Islamic seminary and advocate the cause of Islam.

Read the rest here.


Oh ... so THAT's why they're bombing girls' schools and shooting kids, is it? Gee whiz, why didn't you SAY SO in the first place!!! [/sarcasm]  Someone needs to tell Adnan Rasheed that the Taliban's actions speak so loudly that we can't hear what he's saying.  As for advocating islam, my suspicion is that Malala is far more interested in advocating a COMPLETE form of education, one which, with time, may cause those people who benefit from it to realize the danger represented not just by islam but ANY religion and certainly the three Abrahamic faiths.

If the Taliban's representative thinks one poorly drafted letter is going to create a sea change in how Malala or the world view them, they are sadly and badly mistaken.  I'm not fooled ... and somehow, I suspect, neither is Malala.

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I'm not going to devote any time poisoning my mind by reading anything this prick has to say.

Although, and admittedly I should be ashamed of the fact, I'd love to have 5 minutes to aggressively debate him with a solid length of pipe.


I think that the Taliban (and others not members of that particular group, including the likes of Pat Robertson and several US politicians) see any education, especially of females, beyond memorization of their holy books as a 'sword' wielded against their worldview.

You know what?  They're right!  Education can ultimately deliver us from the bondage of religion, and that is indeed a threat to those who desperately cling to it.  Christianity is centuries behind Judaism, and Islam centuries behind Christianity in moving from faith to reason by means of education.  It seems that the older the religion the less devout its followers become, and I see that as a good thing generally (Note: I am in no way ascribing legitimacy to political Zionism or Christian evangelism -- those are throwbacks like political Islamism and deserve no respect).

It would be interesting to see the religio/polital landscape hundreds of years from now.  Would you have mullahs denouncing the extremist views of Mormon and Scientology jihadists?


Well put, Ted.

As for how things might be a century or so from now, my guess would be that the LDSers and Cruise-ites would be scrambling for cover, while what christians remained would be holed up in "catacombs," as Robert Heinlein suggested in his novel, Job: A Comedy of Justice.

The primary change I would hope for would be that of regarding faith as an aberration rather than a virtue.  Indeed, that step would be pivotal to the entire process of removing religion from the acceptable mainstream.


I completely agree.  It's hard to understand how we got to this stage having dragged along the dogma that acceptance of assertion without evidence or in spite of contradictory evidence (pretty much the definition of 'faith') is a virtue.  One would think that a decent education would eliminate such silliness right away, yet it persists.  It's bolstered by early indoctrination before children have developed reason or are able to form long-lasting memories of how they came to believe certain things, and by the necessity of growing from an archival society in which change is (perhaps rightly to some extent) resisted.

On that tack, I see political conservatism and religiosity as related -- both attempt to damp human impulse to explore and change.  And that has some social value, though it's often hard to see how it overrides its harm.  Consider conservatism or religion like brakes on a race car.  Your lap times would definitely be slower without effective brakes, but they aren't what moves the car forward.  If it were an efficiency rather than speed contest, you might not need brakes at all.

God beliefs are essentially reposits of our ignorance.  If we can't understand something we toss it to God to hold until we do.  There are a great many things that we do not yet fully understand.  It would be a mistake to ignore or deny our ignorance, but a far greater mistake to worship it.


Am I about to be a wet blanket on the criticism of the Taliban! Allow me to preface my remarks with my agreement with MB, that I'd like to debate Rasheed also. Not with a solid length of pipe, but rather a medieval morning star. It would be appropriate to what would be his short-lived medieval way of thinking.

Having said that, Rasheed does make one salient point. What about the innocent men, women and children killed by drone attacks? Not only in Afghanistan, but the tribal areas of Pakistan. I certainly condemn the barbaric treatment of women under the version of Islam that flourishes there. And condemn misogynistic bigotry irrespective of the particular brand of religious superstition promulgating it. However, I think I can say, without fear of successful contradiction, that being alive is better than the alternative.

Malala, a courageous young girl, is being rightfully hailed on the world stage for standing up to these thugs. And, rightfully being looked at as a symbol of defiance in the face these sexually repressed fanatics. But, I've still got this nagging thought in the back of my mind that the Taliban aren't the only ones indiscriminately killing the innocent. Just sayin'.


You are of course correct that the Taliban is just one of the institutions/ideologies wreaking havoc on some societies.  If I were a young male in Pakistan or Yemen or Afghanistan I imagine that I'd be fighting against those sending drones to kill my family along with someone's idea of a 'signature' insurgent'.  I'm old enough to remember Vietnam, and how our military adopted the concept of 'free fire zones' (within the country we were supposed to be defending!) and a stance of 'kill anything that moves'.  My Lai was only a numeric anomaly -- otherwise it complied with policy, and I don't see that policy as conceptually changed very much.

How does one defend homeland against a vastly overwhelming force?  My ancestors were Cherokee and they largely didn't.  They were mostly assimilated and later mostly removed to Oklahoma by that guy on the $20 bill (and Congress).  Their tribes were matrilineal and so not inherently misogynist as the Taliban clearly is.  But they held other views about property and social structure and religion that were anathema to some European colonists (many of whom just wanted their stuff).

We (the current iteration of Americans) sit in self-righteous judgment of groups like the Taliban, and I'll argue that this is largely justified by their actions in contrast to what we understand and accept as civilized society.  I don't think that we are justified in trying to impose our ideals, and certainly not in extrajudicial killing.  So where do we draw a line?  Is it when someone tries to  religiously harass women in our family or our hometown, or is it at arbitrary national borders?  Who defies those borders. and are we committed socially to fighting for those that do?



I agree these are tough questions, with no clear cut answers. Do we as a society turn a blind eye to international injustices because we ourselves have a penchant for turning a blind eye to justice in our own society? Do we have to completely clean our own house before we point out the filth in our neighbors'? I, too, am old enough to remember Viet Nam and the Cold War. And, the black eye the USSR would publicly give the US when the latter railed against repression in the former's nation, while the former would point out the thriving existence of Jim Crow here. 

I don't think we should turn a blind eye to international injustice, or live under the delusion that all organized societies are equally valid. They're simply not. It's one thing to criticize, and to try and do something based upon the underlying reason for the criticism. However, before we take on too smug of a condescending attitude, let's not stop cleaning out the garage while simultaneously pointing at the trash in the neighbor's yard.


I agree.  In a way, the Cold War maintained a perverse 'balance' that no longer exists.  With elimination of (one side of) the perversity we also lost the balance, and that's significant.  The US military is now as large as the rest of the military in the world, and many times more powerful than any possible contingency, and that's an inherently unstable situation.  For one thing, it's justifiably seen as unfair by most of the rest of the world.  It's pretty hard to argue against that when 'we' prop up regimes of 'our' choice while overtly or covertly undermining or directly overthrowing others.

People of the world ask why they should act in the interest of the US, and have little say in the matter even in ostensible 'democracies',  People in the US ask why they should act in the interest of Israel and have little to say in our ostensible 'democracy'.  An overwhelming military/economic power never trusts its own citizens to run it in any meaningful way.  'We' are the enemy to be spied upon and marginalized , just like in Iran or North Korea.

So 'turning a blind eye on injustices" abroad is not something over which the typical US citizen has any control.  Those to whom we've delegated control determine our alliances and national antagonisms, and human rights within those realms have very little to do with 'our' actions.  Else, how can one explain our friendship with Saudi Arabia, Israel and many other abusive regimes?


La supériorité de Mahomet est d'avoir fondé une religion en se passant de l'enfer.

Napoleon Bonaparte




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