Ehsanullah Ehsan, chief spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that Yousafzai “is the symbol of the infidels and obscenity,” adding that if she survived, they would target her again.Taliban leaders had decided a few months earlier to kill her, and assigned gunmen to carry it out. In the days following the attack, the Taliban reiterated their justification, saying Yousafzai had been brainwashed by her father, Ziauddin. “We warned him several times to stop his daughter from using dirty language against us, but he didn’t listen and forced us to take this extreme step,” a Taliban spokesman said, adding that Yousafzai and her father remain on the Taliban’s list of intended victims.
The Taliban later seemed to be qualifying their criticism, saying “We did not attack her for raising voice for education. We targeted her for opposing mujahideen and their war”, although the Taliban had closed girls’ schools in Swat as part of their rule. The Taliban also justified their attack as part of religious scripture, saying that the “Quran says that people propagating against Islam and Islamic forces would be killed”, going on to say that “Sharia says that even a child can be killed if he is propagating against Islam”. Other groups strongly disagreed. On 12 October 2012, a group of 50 Islamic clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwā – a ruling of Islamic law – against the Taliban gunmen who tried to kill Yousafzai. Islamic scholars from the Sunni Ittehad Council publicly denounced attempts by the Pakistani Taliban to mount religious justifications for the shooting of Yousafzai and two of her classmates. Most Pakistani government officials have refrained from publicly criticising the Taliban by name over the attack, in what critics say is a lack of resolve against extremism.