Malala's attacker was held, freed in 2009: Sources

Published: October 18, 2012
Believed to be in his 30s, Attaullah is on the run and may have fled to neighbouring Afghanistan.Police and security officials say dozens of suspects were arrested after the Taliban gunmen shot Malala. PHOTO: ISPR/FILE

Believed to be in his 30s, Attaullah is on the run and may have fled to neighbouring Afghanistan.Police and security officials say dozens of suspects were arrested after the Taliban gunmen shot Malala. PHOTO: ISPR/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The alleged organiser of the Taliban shooting of Malala Yousafzai was captured during a 2009 military offensive against the militant group but was released after three months, two senior officials told Reuters.

They identified the man who planned the attack on 14-year-old Malala only as Attaullah, and said he was one of the two gunmen who shot her on a school bus this month in Swat.

Believed to be in his 30s, Attaullah is on the run and may have fled to neighbouring Afghanistan, they said. He organized the attack on the orders of one of the Taliban’s most feared commanders, Maulana Fazlullah, officials said.

The two officials said Attaullah was detained by security forces after a 2009 military campaign pushed the Taliban out of the Swat Valley.

“He spent three months in the custody of security forces but was freed after no evidence (of wrongdoing) was found,” one official said.

The second source, a senior security official, said authorities had gathered enough evidence to arrest Attaullah after raiding his house in Swat.

If Attaullah is in Afghanistan, finding him could be difficult. Some of the world’s most dangerous militants have operated in the unruly, border area for years, a forbidding area hard for security forces to reach.

The officials said Pakistani security forces were trying other ways to bring him to justice.

“His mother and two brothers were taken into custody to force him to surrender,” said the second senior official. “Also two other close relatives of Attaullah have been taken into custody because we heard he spent the night in their house after his escape from Swat.”

Melted away

The second official said Attaullah was not a hardcore militant, only a sympathiser when he was arrested in 2009.

The Taliban commander in charge in Swat was Fazlullah, who melted away during the crackdown and eventually moved to Afghanistan with some of his fighters.

From there, he has orchestrated cross-border raids against government forces and has again emerged as a major security threat, security sources have said.

The Taliban, fighting to topple the government and impose a radical theocracy, have blown up hundreds of girls schools in recent years in Swat and other areas to further their opposition to the education of women.

Police and security officials say dozens of suspects were arrested after the Taliban gunmen shot Malala, including four employees of her school. Two of them were released.

The second senior official said Malala’s father, Ziauddin, had been told about threats to her life after two militants close to Ataullah were interrogated following their arrest in Swat two months ago.

“Ziauddin was properly informed two months ago about serious threats to Malala’s life and was even offered security which he refused,” said a third official, a senior police officer.

The father earlier told Reuters he refused police protection for Malala because he wanted her to live a normal life and that it was not permitted for men to spend time with a young girl in Swat’s conservative society.

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Reader Comments (31)

  • Iqbal
    Oct 18, 2012 - 1:35PM

    If prisoners keep being released on lack of evidence (although there is always evidence against blasphemers) is it surprising that the American keep sending drones and killing militants?
    Pakistan’s version of evidence seems to be coming from Stone age. Take Hafeez Saeed as an example – there is tons of evidence gathered by India and USA but Pakistan keeps saying otherwise. One of these days he will be visited by a drone and all that expensive trial will not be needed.


  • Aryabhat
    Oct 18, 2012 - 1:47PM

    I am sure everyone feels enraged (rightfully so) at this rogue fleeing away to Afghanistan – if it is true.

    Now could you imagine what Afghans must be feeling when their Girls schools are bombed or children killed and culprits run away to THIS side of Durrand line?


  • Tabish Bilgrami
    Oct 18, 2012 - 1:52PM

    Thanks to our courts yet again………………….


  • poleturtle
    Oct 18, 2012 - 1:59PM

    Failure of the security agencies and the Governments. For so many years the government watched the Militants take over Swat. For so many decades the governments are following a dual policy. When will the Nation wake up??


  • ahmad
    Oct 18, 2012 - 2:03PM

    Thank you dear security agencies for finding no evidence against him.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Oct 18, 2012 - 2:08PM

    When you let criminals ‘melt away’………..what do you expect. Disgraceful.


  • Khan007
    Oct 18, 2012 - 2:30PM

    Intelligent agencies should have kept eye on him. Sympathiers of Talibans are as dangerious as talibans themselves are.


  • Nadir
    Oct 18, 2012 - 3:01PM

    So blame the father and hold the family of the alleged perpetrator to blackmail him, classy! “the other ways” is a mockery of justice.


  • Xtra Vision
    Oct 18, 2012 - 3:08PM

    Malala is the daughterRecommend

  • mr. righty rightist
    Oct 18, 2012 - 3:32PM

    “The alleged organiser of the Taliban shooting of Malala Yousafzai was captured during a 2009 military offensive against the militant group but was released after three months,”

    Like Hafiz Saeed, Omar Sheikh?


  • ishrat salim
    Oct 18, 2012 - 3:36PM

    @Tabish Bilgrami:

    It is not the courts decision…nobody can be charged without evidence – & evidences to prove has to be provided by our investigative branch of Police – & are they competent enough to do so & do we have the facility & the will to do the right thing in right way ? & there is no law as such to keep them without charge for an indefinite period in Pakistan.It is the responsibility of the lawmakers in Parliament to make new law to fight these terrorists etc; we also do not have witness protection law, hence nobody dares to standup against such elements…then still it is the fault of the judiciary…? just need stupid reason to bash judiciary without going into details….go into details…where we are & where we should be before pointing unnecessary fingers to any institution….


  • Oct 18, 2012 - 3:44PM

    This is a very sad state of affairs that all terrorsits who wrere actively involved in crimes, were released after Army operations in FATA which again started busy in ugly activities. This is not understandable.
    If you want to carry out an operation against these terrorists, then the area under operation must be cleared for ever, then the people of pakistan will support operations everywhere.
    The people of pakistan are suspecious over these operations as after such operations, they come up with more intense form again.
    The army must arrest all those again who were involved and deal with them in army courts for treason and not in civil courts.


  • mr. righty rightist
    Oct 18, 2012 - 4:03PM


    Hafiz Saeed is pure as milk. Stop your propaganda.


  • Rana
    Oct 18, 2012 - 4:58PM

    TTP is a devil tree with thousands of heads! It’s time to illuminate the whole tree, instead of pointing out towards a single head!!


  • Oct 18, 2012 - 5:05PM

    Message board in Birmingham Hospital for Malala can be reached on


  • Moosa Khan
    Oct 18, 2012 - 5:43PM

    It’s nothing new. Military had captured many and all were released by courts. Guess which side the corruption lives.
    For example, few years ago in Lahore police building shooting, they captured one of the last remaining terrorist with ammo, guns and all. He was shown on TV when captured and then what. Court released him like many others.


  • Moosa Khan
    Oct 18, 2012 - 5:51PM

    They find evidence, provide videos of capturing, operations, and send these people to jail/court.The civil system is extremely corrupt. Ask the courts who release such criminals. Such release is one of many cases. This issue was raised by military that courts were letting go many many criminals which they captured with great efforts.


  • Usman
    Oct 18, 2012 - 7:48PM

    Well thats just great, isnt it?

    We give more chances to the same insects that mess up in first place. Killers let loose again, Its just amazing how incompetent whole Pakistan’s infrastructure is. No wonder that OBL was found in Pakistan. We honestly have no respect left in whole Muslim world, forget the whole world.Recommend

  • Pashtun
    Oct 18, 2012 - 8:49PM

    So his mother was arrested for simply giving birth to him?


  • Basit
    Oct 18, 2012 - 9:01PM

    And then liberals complain about missing persons.


  • IceSoul
    Oct 18, 2012 - 9:04PM

    Its not the court’s or the military’s fault. The problem lies in the total lack of powerful anti-terror legislation in Pakistan that would make evidence obtained from “unconventional” methods admissible in court.


  • Hassan Jan
    Oct 18, 2012 - 9:50PM

    Blame the courts. Army doing a great job and whole nation must stand shoulder to shoulder with them. Long live Pak army and Pakistan. Mine border with Afghanistan kick out all afghans


  • Bigboy
    Oct 18, 2012 - 10:02PM

    How could they free a CIA-RAW-Mossad agent get away? Isn’t TTP propped by CIA-RAW-Mossad? Pakistan has lost a great chance to unmask the TTP’s foreign sponsors.


  • Bigboy
    Oct 18, 2012 - 10:03PM

    How could they free a CIA-RAW-Mossad agent? Isn’t TTP propped by CIA-RAW-Mossad? Pakistan has lost a great chance to unmask the TTP’s foreign sponsors.


  • Safdar
    Oct 18, 2012 - 11:17PM

    Is Ihsanullah Ihsan also in Afghanistan, who frequently claims responsibility for attacks on behalf of the TTP?


  • Timothy Murphy
    Oct 18, 2012 - 11:23PM

    Namaste My Brothers And Sisters, Malala a beautiful young woman just starting out in her life in pursuit of education to help her Countries people and as an individual with opinions and faith all inspired by Allah was brutaly shot by the taliban and now fights for life and a future. The taliban broke the Korans laws in doing this and have implemented Human, their laws in place of Allah’s laws in regard to the treatment of Women in general which is based on tradition not the Koran’s laws. If the Prophet Mohammad were on earth today these infidals would probaly not have heads resting now on their shoulders. Everyone dismember the taliban now, peaceably, and pray to Allah that all Women will be treated good. Thank You Namaste Timothy.


  • meekal a ahmed
    Oct 19, 2012 - 12:53AM

    OBVIOSULY he must have felt to Afghanistan where he must have been welcomed as a great hero!


  • Tch tch
    Oct 19, 2012 - 1:06AM

    @Tabish Bilgrami: Read the article again he never was presented in the court. The military left him. As they dont have a crystal ball cant blame them. Hindsight is 20/20
    Who knows maybe he was sympathizer to begin with but the three months roughing up pushed him over the edge.
    And they jailed his mother,2 brothers and two others relatives really???
    What century do we live in again?


  • Oct 19, 2012 - 8:20AM

    Outdated laws of evidence and punishment are the main culprits for the decrepit system of ours. That is why every Tim, Tom, Dick, Harry amd Mary murderer gets away with a smile and mockery on the face. Salams


  • Concerned
    Oct 19, 2012 - 11:04AM

    The problem is with Laws which prevent courts to accept unconventional evidences such as Images, Videos, Audio, Telephonic conversations, SMS etc

    The current law also prevent Security personals to testify against criminals.

    There is no protection mechanism for eye witnesses, no body dares to record their statement against these culprits.

    All of the problem can be solved by our law makers to pass more powerful laws but they are more interested in creating laws which help themselves such as Dual nationality, free hand to bash courts etc


  • Ishrat salim
    Oct 20, 2012 - 2:36AM


    You are so very correct….hope people commenting above have read your comment too and understood too….unless our intellectual class have gone intellectually bankrupt…..


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