Brave holy warriors.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – One of the Taliban’s most feared commanders, Maulana Fazlullah, carefully briefed two killers from his special hit squad on their next target.

The gunmen weren’t going after any army officer, politician or Western diplomat. Their target was a 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl who had angered the Taliban by speaking out for “Western”-style girls’ education.

Tuesday’s shooting of Malala Yousufzai was the culmination of years of campaigning that had pitted the fearless, smiling young girl against one of Pakistan’s most ruthless Taliban commanders.

Their story began in 2009, when Fazlullah, known as Radio Mullah for his fiery radio broadcasts, took over Swat Valley, and ordered the closure of girls’ schools, including Yousufzai’s.

Outraged, the then-11-year-old kept a blog for the BBC under a pen name and later launched a campaign for girls’ education. It won her Pakistan’s highest civilian honor and death threats from the Taliban.

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