A Pakistani school girl who survived a vicious attempt on her life has received an explanation from a Taliban spokesman on why members of the militant group tried to shoot her to death in 2012.
Just days after addressing the United Nations with a heartfelt speech calling for the right of all children to be educated, 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai received a letter from a senior Taliban commander Adnan Rashee saying that she was targeted by them because of her criticism of the group, not because of her advocacy for education.
On Oct. 9, 2012, Yousafzai, who was 15 at the time, was shot in the head and neck on her school bus by a gunman who jumped on board, shouting her name. She had been a vocal advocate for education, especially for girls, through blogs and interviews. Two of her classmates were also injured in the attack.
Yousafzai shocked the world, going on to fully recover from near-deadly injuries with intensive rehabilitation.
Celebrating her 16th birthday last week on July 12, Yousafzai delivered a speech to the United Nations proving that what didn’t kill her has truly made her stronger.
“The Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead,” Yousafzai said. “They thought that the bullet would silence us, but they failed.”
This prompted a response from Adnan Rasheed of the Taliban who wrote to Yousafzai, “The Taliban believe you were intentionally writing against them and running a smear campaign to malign their effort to establish an Islamic system in (the) Swat Valley, and your writings were provocative.”
“You have said in your speech ... that the pen is mightier than the sword. So they attacked you for your sword not your books or school,” Rasheed wrote in the letter. "...you and the UNO is pretending that as you were shot due to education, although this is not the reason, be honest, not the education but your propaganda was the issue and what you are doing now, you are using your tongue on the behest of the others and you must know that if the pen is mightier than the sword then tongue is sharper and the injury of sword can be hailed but the injury of the tongue never hails and in the wars tongue is more destructive than any weapon."
Yousafzai had said in her speech to the United Nations that her weakness and fear died, giving way to the birth of strength and courage.
Read the full letter, obtained by Channel 4 in the UK, below.