Washington: Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah, also known as Mullah Radio, who is infamous for his long campaign against female education, is believed to be behind the assassination attempt on teenage Pakistani education activist Malala Yousufzai.
Malala, 14, who earned international fame for raising her voice against Taliban oppression in Swat, was shot in the neck and head and two other girls sustained injuries when the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) opened fire on their school van in Swat valley last Tuesday.
According to experts, Fazlullah is considered a charismatic preacher, recruiting not only suicide bombers but also village women, who have donated their valuables to his cause, reports The Washington Post. Fazlullah formed an alliance with other Taliban factions, and together they laid siege to the Swat Valley between 2007 and 2009.
They destroyed hundreds of schools, beheaded villagers and killed dozens of soldiers and policemen. They even used their strength to force the Pakistani government into three peace deals.
But by 2009, the Pakistani Army pushed the TNSM out of the valley. Since then, the group`s members have floated across the border between Konar in Afghanistan and the Bajaur tribal area in Pakistan, according to experts. Fazlullah is no longer able to conduct paramilitary operations and may not be in day-to-day command of much.
He has tried to maintain his stature and public standing by attacking those most vulnerable and least likely to resist: children and their parents, experts say. According to experts, the attack on Malala is meant to draw attention to Fazlullah. "It is what they thrive on. This gives them a new lease on life. It can revive his support system," said Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council in Washington.
Malala`s shooting has outraged Pakistanis, prompting demonstrations in support of girls`` education. Pakistani officials have said that they have made several arrests in the case, but Fazlullah remains at large and may still be across the border, in Afghanistan.