BBC Pakistan editor Haroon Rashid told “The World”‘s Marco Werman that Malala was targeted because she’d praised President Obama. Rashid believes one of the gunmen “knew who he was looking for because some of the witnesses told us he specifically asked for Malala and when the students said, ‘We don’t know who she is,’ he shot two students at the same time to make sure either [one] of them would be Malala.”
Taliban spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan told The New York Times it had specifically targeted Malala, though three girls were shot. All are still alive; Malala is reportedly in stable condition after an operation to remove a bullet from her head.
“She has become a symbol of Western culture in the area; she was openly propagating it,” Mr. Ehsan said, adding that if she survived, the militants would certainly try to kill her again. “Let this be a lesson.”
Malala began writing an online diary for BBC’s Urdu service in 2009. New York Times reporter Adam B. Ellick made a documentary that year about Malala’s school closing. After the film was released, Ellick writes,
She hosted foreign diplomats in Swat, held news conferences on peace and education, and as a result, won a host of peace awards. Her best work, however, was that she kept going to school.
Her father, Ziauddin, believes strongly in the education of girls. Ellick writes that he decided Swat, the region in which the Yousafzai family lives, had become “too dangerous for a documentary.”
For the first time in my career, I was in the awkward position of trying to convince a source, Ziauddin, that the story was not worth the risk. But Ziauddin fairly argued that he was already a public activist in Swat, prominent in the local press, and that if the Taliban wanted to kill him or his family, they would do so anyway. He said he was willing to die for the cause. But I never asked Malala if she was willing to die as well.
In a tweet Wednesday, Ellick says Ziaddun and Malala’s brothers are targets now, too:
Swat Taliban Siraj Uddin just called my friend to say they will target Zia (her father) Yousafzai and her brothers. #malala
— Adam B. Ellick (@aellick) October 10, 2012
The attack on Malala was a lead story in Wednesday’s New York Times print edition: