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Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Taliban Commander Writes to Malala Yousafzai

Last Updated, 7:19 p.m. A senior Taliban commander blamed Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the militant group last year, for provoking the attack by “smearing” the Islamists, according to a copy of a letter he wrote to her that was published on Wednesday by Britain's Channel 4 News.

The four-page letter, addressing the 16-year-old education advocate in English, was signed by the militant Adnan Rashid, a former Pakistani Air Force officer who took part in an attempt to assassinate Gen. Pervez Musharraf a decade ago and escaped from prison last year, in the biggest jailbreak in Pakistani history. (To read the letter below, click on the full-screen option at the lower right of the document viewer.)

As the Channel 4 News correspondent Fatima Manji explains, at the start of the letter provided to the news organization by the militants, the commander stressed that he was writing in a personal capacity, not in the name of the Pakistani Taliban, officially known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP. He told Ms. Yousafzai “when you were attacked it was shocking for me, I wished it would never happened,” but quickly shifted the blame for the shooting last October in Pakistan's Swat Valley on to the shoulders of the victim.

Writing in somewhat idiosyncratic English, the commander claimed that the “Taliban never attacked you because of going to school or you were education lover.” He continued: “Taliban or Mujahideen are not against the education of any men or women or girl. Taliban believe that you were intentionally writing against them and running a smearing campaign to malign their efforts to establish Islamic system in Swat and your writings were provocative.”

Video obtained by the Pakistani newspaper Dawn last year, said to show the Taliban commander Adnan Rashid, a former air force officer who escaped from jail last year.

The letter appears to have been written on Saturday, because it contains a direct reference to Ms. Yousafzai's emotional plea for universal education in her address to the United Nations on Friday (a body he refers to as the “UNO”).

You have said in your speech yesterday that pen is mightier than sword, so they attacked you for your sword not for your books or school. There were thousands of girls who were going to school and college before and after the Taliban insurgency in Swat, would you explain why were only you on their hit list???

Mr. Rashid also tried to convince the young woman that Western notions of education are a continuation of a centuries-old plot to indoctrinate the former subjects of the British Empire by citing remarks made by Thomas Babington Macaulay, the pioneer of colonial education in India, “dated 2nd February, 1835, about what type of education system is required in Indian sub-continent to replace the Muslim education system.” The letter accurately quotes Macaulay's statement, recorded in the British Bureau of Education's minutes from Feb. 2, 1835: “We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, - a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.”

The commander then reveals to Ms. Yousafzai what he describes as the plot in favor of Jews and Freemasons concealed in Western systems of education:

This was and this is the plan and mission of this so-called education system for which you are ready to die, for which UNO takes you to their office to produce more and more Asians in blood but English in taste, to produce more and more Africans in color but English in opinion, to produce more and more non-English people but English in morale. This so-called education made Obama, the mass murder, your ideal, isn't it?

Why they want to make all human beings English? because Englishmen are the staunch supporters and slaves of Jews. Do you know Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder and symbol of English education in India was a freemasons.

Despite his aversion to the English, the commander, schooled in Pakistan's military, also sought to justify the Taliban's opposition to polio vaccination with a slightly mangled quote from Bertrand Russell: “Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of power that be will become psychologically impossible.”

The letter ends with an appeal to the young woman to return to Pakistan and enroll in a religious school, known as a madrassa.

I advise you to come back home, adopt the Islamic and Pushtoon culture, join any female Islamic madrassa near your home town, study and learn the book of Allah, use your pen for Islam and plight of Muslim ummah and reveal the conspiracy of tiny elite who want to enslave the whole humanity for their evil agendas in the name of new world order.

Pakistani journalists and bloggers writing in English on Twitter responded to the letter by noting with horror that it seemed to reveal how close the worldview of the extremists is now to mainstream political positions.

As the Pakistani blogger who writes as Raza Rumi noted, the Taliban commander's letter might have one positive effect: undercutting many of the elaborate conspiracy theories that absolved the group of responsibility in the immediate aftermath of the attack.