WASHINGTON, December 16, 2014 — The terrorist organization Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also called the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for an attack that killed 132 children in Peshawar, Pakistan. Some reports indicate that children were singled out from classrooms and intentionally targeted due to their relationships with senior military officials in Pakistan’s army that are involved in anti-terror activity.
“This school attack was the Pakistani Taliban taking revenge for the government’s disruption of their terrorist activities. This is not a sign of strength but of weakness, and they lashed out at a soft target. They are facing a major defeat. That is its significance,” says Professor Juan Cole.
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The head of academic affairs at the US based Al-Maghrib Institute, a prominent Sunni Muslim educational institution, Yasir Qadhi said on his Facebook “Over 126 people massacred? For what? Who could do this? Are these people human?
“If the Taliban is really behind this, I have no doubt in my mind that this one incident will be the end of this group, once and for all.”
He continued “Those who defended other incidents in the past, all in the name of fighting drone attacks and American aggression and your long, never ending list: I’d really like to see you defend this one. Actually, scratch that, if you feel this act is defensible I don’t think this world is a place for you to live in, and I don’t want to hear anything from you or about you.”
Qadhi ends his posting with a quote from the Quran, “”And when the young girl buried alive will be asked: For what crime was she killed?” [Takwir: 8]”
Support amongst Pakistanis has dramatically fallen after today’s attack. Experts believe that other militant groups will turn on the Pakistani Taliban as a result of the attack against small children, and the organization will simultaneously lose credibility in the rural villages of Pakistan, drying up the recruitment pool.
Observers believe that the Pakistani Army will react strongly, and Professor Cole believes the Taliban are “on the ropes.” Currently, militant groups in Pakistan only survive on the fringe, and due to large scale public apathy. Today’s events will be a turning event for the country, and give Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the political ammunition to eradicate the terror group once and for all.
Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai said “I, along with millions of others, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters – but we will never be defeated.”
The episode was a grim end to the year, which also started out with an attempted attack on school children. On January 6, 2014 a suicide bomber was stopped by a young student named Aitzaz Hasan, who confronted the attacker and died protecting his fellow students form the attack. Eleven months later, the year will end in a similar attack, but one with a tragic end.
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The attack has also caused an unprecedented level of unity amongst Pakistan’s disparate populace, as calls from throughout the country come to destroy the Taliban. Quickly after the attack, residents of Peshawar opened multiple blood banks to help the survivors of the attack.
— Maan Imran Khan (@MaanImranKhan) December 16, 2014
The calls have spread throughout the South Asian continent, as residents of India, once a long time rival, sprang to social media in support of the victims of the attack.
— Firstpost (@firstpostin) December 16, 2014
Cities as far away as Islamabad organized national prayer services called “Quran khawani” in public squares.