October 9

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Given the recent events in Afghanistan and the supposed appearance of a newer and more modern Taliban 2.0, I present this post from last year.

2012 Attempted murder of Malala Yousafzai

The Taliban group of Afghani Islamists arose out of their country’s war against the occupying Soviet army and subsequent struggles against rival rebel groups. Their strict interpretation of Muslim law (combined with Pashtun tribal codes) was enforced when the group took power and ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001. Banned were modern democracy, women’s rights, music, popular entertainments, television and the internet. The Taliban might well have consolidated power and ruled for a long time, if they had not chosen to let the country be used by jihadist groups conducting anti-western terrorism. One of these groups was al-Qaeda.

In September, 2001 an al-Qaeda operation against the United States attacked New York and Washington, killing almost 3,000 people. The Taliban expected the U.S. to retaliate but expected that they could weather the cruise missiles and air strikes that were anticipated. They refused American demands to hand over the leadership of al-Qaeda and close terrorist training camps. On October 7, 2001 a western coalition attacked Afghanistan and soon drove the Taliban from power, with its cadres fleeing across the border to Pakistan whose government unofficially sheltered them. Since then they have attempted to retake Afghanistan and have conducted a long guerrilla war against the new Afghani government and western military forces.

In the areas the Taliban occupied they opposed education for girls and destroyed over a hundred schools that had taken in female students. One such girl student was 11-year-old Malala Yousafzai, whose father had long supported education for every child. Malala and her father agreed to cooperate with the BBC in publicizing the plight of girls under the Taliban; she wrote a blog, appeared on television and petitioned foreigners to help her cause, becoming along the way famous for her precocious opposition to the Taliban. Death threats were made against the family, quite realistic ones in light of the fact that the Taliban had decided to kill her. On October 9, 2012 a gunman boarded a school bus on which she was riding and shot her, hitting her in the brain and wounding two other girls. Malala was transferred to Germany and later to Britain where surgeons repaired the damage and allowed her to resume her campaigns.

The assassination attempt backfired in that it made of a hero of Malala who went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She continues to be an advocate for the education of girls and peace in her homeland.

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