Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant Ehsanullah Ehsan, whose group nine years ago is alleged to have shot and badly wounded Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, has allegedly threatened a second attempt on her life, tweeting that next time, “there would be no mistake”.
Twitter on Wednesday permanently suspended the account with the menacing post.
Dawn.com was unable to independently verify whether the Twitter account making the threat belonged to the militant. However, the BBC said in a report that Ehsan confirmed to the outlet via an audio message that the now suspended account belonged to him.
The threat prompted Malala to tweet herself, asking both the military and Prime Minister Imran Khan to explain how her alleged shooter, Ehsan, had escaped from government custody.
Following Malala's tweet, the prime minister's focal person on digital media, Arslan Khalid, said the Twitter account allegedly run by the TTP militant was "fake". He added that Twitter and authorities had been notified "as such miscreants using fake accounts and spreading hate shouldn't be allowed on any social media platform".
"There is zero tolerance for extremism in Pakistan," Khalid said.
Meanwhile, Raoof Hasan, an adviser to the prime minister, said the government is investigating the threat and had immediately asked Twitter to shut down the account.
Ehsan was arrested in 2017, but escaped in January 2020 from a so-called safe house where he was being held by the forces. The circumstances of both his arrest and escape have been shrouded in mystery and controversy.
Days after the militant's escape from custody, the then interior minister Ejaz Shah had confirmed the news as "true", saying that the "state is aware" without giving any more details.
Since his escape, Ehsan has been interviewed and has communicated with journalists via the same Twitter account that carried the threat. He has had more than one Twitter account, all of which have been suspended.
Ehsan, a longtime member of the TTP, urged Malala to "come back home because we have a score to settle with you and your father". The tweet added that “this time there will be no mistake".
Malala, who has setup a fund that promotes education for girls worldwide and even financed a girls’ school in her home in the Swat Valley, called out the government and the military over Ehsan’s tweet.
“This is the ex-spokesperson of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan who claims the attack on me and many innocent people. He is now threatening people on social media,” she tweeted. “How did he escape?”
Associated Press queries to the military were unanswered.
The charges against Ehsan include the horrific massacre at the Army Public School in Peshawar in 2014 that killed 144 people — mostly children, some as young as five years old.
He also claimed responsibility for the 2012 shooting of Malala in Swat Valley. In the attack, the gunman walked up to her on a school bus in which she was travelling, asked for her by name and then fired three bullets. She was just 15 years old at the time and had enraged the Taliban with her campaign for girls' education.
Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, a teacher, ran a school in Swat Valley for boys and girls. In 2007, when the TTP took control of the area, they forced girls out of schools and ruled with a brutal hand until 2009, when they were driven out by the military.
During his years in military custody, Ehsan was never charged. Authorities also later never explained how he left the country and traveled to Turkey, where he is believed to be living today.