Taliban Commander: Malala Shooting Should Have 'Never Happened'

Wednesday, 17 Jul 2013 02:00 PM

By Tom Topousis

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A senior Taliban commander said he wished the attempted assassination of teen-education activist Malala Yousafzai never happened and encouraged her to return home to Pakistan,  NBC News reported Wednesday.

In an open letter to the 16-year-old Yousafzai, Adnan Rashid called the Oct. 9 attack on her by Taliban militants "shocking."

But Rashid neither apologized nor said whether she deserved to be killed or not.

"Let’s leave it to Allah almighty," he wrote. "He is the best judge."

Taliban gunmen shot Yousafzai, then 15, as she rode home on a school bus. The bullet passed through her head and neck, but she survived the attack meant to silence her campaign promoting education and women's rights, which included a BBC blog on education for girls in Pakistan's Swat Valley.

"When you were attacked it was shocking for me," Rashid wrote. "I wished it [had] never happened."

Rashid wrote that he first learned of Yousafzai and her activities while in a Pakistani prison after his conviction as a ringleader in an attempted assassination of former president Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

"I was thinking how to approach you," he wrote. "My emotions were brotherly for you because we belong to same Yousafzai tribe."

Rashid escaped from jail after 150 armed militants stormed the prison last year and freed nearly 400 inmates.

Yousafzai celebrated her 16th birthday July 12 by delivering a speech at the United Nations, where she called for greater protections and education opportunities for children around the world.

"They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed," she said, insisting that she felt no desire for revenge against her attackers.

"I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there was a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him," she said.

Yousafzai continues to receive medical care in Britain.

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