A Pakistani Taliban militant who nine years ago is alleged to have shot and badly wounded Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai has threatened a second attempt on her life, tweeting that next time, “there would be no mistake.” Twitter on Wednesday permanently suspended the account with the menacing post.
The threat prompted Yousafzai to tweet herself, asking both the Pakistan military and Prime Minister Imran Khan to explain how her alleged shooter, Ehsanullah Ehsan, had escaped from government custody.
Ehsan was arrested in 2017, but escaped in January 2020 from a so-called safe house where he was being held by Pakistan’s 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 Pakistani journalists 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 the Pakistani Taliban or Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan as they are known, urged 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.” Yousafzai, who has setup 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 Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan who claims the attack on me and many innocent people. He is now threatening people on social media,” she tweeted. “How did he escape?” Associated Press queries to the military were unanswered.
The charges against Ehsan include a horrific 2014 attack on a Pakistani army’s public school that killed 134, mostly children, some as young as five years old.
He also claimed responsibility for the 2012 shooting of Yousafzai in Swat Valley. In the attack, the gunman walked up to 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 Pakistani military.
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.