One of the Taliban gunmen suspected of shooting Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who advocated for women’s education, had been held by the Pakistani military three years ago, but subsequently released.
According to a report from the Associated Press, citing unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials, a man named “Attaullah” and a number of other militants were detained by the army during their ultimately successful campaign to remove the Taliban from the Swat Valley (Malala’s native region and the locale of her shooting last week).
Reuters reported that Attaullah, who is believed to be in his 30s, organized the attack on Malala on behalf of the Taliban’s feared leader, Maulana Fazlullah.
“He [Attaullah] spent three months in the custody of security forces but was freed after no evidence [of wrongdoing] was found,” one official said.
While Attaullah now remains at large, local authorities have detained several of his relatives – including his mother and two brothers -- who live in Swat. AP reported that Pakistani intelligence suspect Attaullah likely fled across the border into Afghanistan, where it would be extremely difficult for authorities to find him.