In the hours following their attack on a school in Peshawar on December 16, Pakistani terrorist group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) issued a claim of responsibility and cited reprisal for the Pakistani military efforts to root out and destroy the group this past summer. Under the orders of Maulawi (Mullah) Fazlullah, gunmen disguised in Pakistani military uniforms traveled from room to room, identifying the children of Pakistani military personnel and slaughtering them in cold blood.

The final count was an astounding 145 people killed. A teacher that stood up valiantly, refusing to relinquish the location of specific children, was killed in horrific fashion—doused in gasoline, set alight, and burned alive in front of her young students. Some of the students attested to her heroism, stating that she quite simply saved lives by standing up to the attackers.

At least six militants entered the Pakistani school wearing security uniforms before massacring an estimated 132 people and injuring another. —(Lianna Brinded, International Business Times, December 16)

This past summer here at SOFREP and at Foreign Intrigue, I noted the ongoing offensive in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan and the effectiveness of the mission on the capacity of groups such as TTP to carry out attacks on Pakistani civilians and infrastructure. You can find those articles here:

The attack in Peshawar has drawn comparisons to a number of other high-profile attacks on schools, including the siege in Beslan, North Ossetia in 2004. The Beslan School Hostage Crisis, carried out by Chechen and Ingush militants, was carried out in similar methodical fashion, with the attackers specifically targeting children. More than 1000 civilians were taken hostage. Russian Special Forces eventually stormed the school in an effort to free the hostages. The militants began executing children. In the attack, 385 people lost their lives. The comparison with the attack in Peshawar is notable:

The assault immediately brought back memories of the Beslan school hostage crisis in which more than 330 people, the majority of them children, were killed. The scale of the violence at the school in Beslan, a city in the North Caucasus republic of North Ossetia, Russia, and the fact that the attackers deliberately targeted young children had traumatised the Russian public and horrified the outside world. The siege in Beslan began on the morning of September 1, 2004, when at least 32 armed individuals stormed the school and took more than 1,000 hostages, including pupils in both primary and secondary grades and their teachers, as well as parents and relatives who had gathered to celebrate the opening day of the new school —(The Indian Express, December 16)

Fazlullah has repeatedly drawn the ire of the Pakistani public with several high-profile attacks on civilians. The most widely known of these attacks was the assassination attempt on school girl, Internet blogger, and activist Malala Yousafzai in October, 2012. Malala recovered and has gained notoriety as a proponent of educational opportunities for Pakistani girls—something TTP has expressed vehement opposition to. In the days after the attack, Internet bloggers and news sources rushed to remind the public of Fazlullah’s importance and his backstory:

To all those who don’t know who Radio Mullah is, he was the man behind the shooting of Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai. In her autobiography, “I Am Malala,” she has an entire chapter devoted to Fazlullah titled, “Radio Mullah,” the nickname he acquired when starting out as a pirate Islamist radio personality. The same Radio Mullah is now behind the Peshawar killings. After the death of Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone attack, Fazlullah was appointed as the new “Amir” (chief) of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan on 7 November, 2013. Radio Mullah is now the most-wanted terrorist in the world, and holds a reward of a whopping five Lakh dollars on his name.—(, December 16)