Al-Qaeda’s Attack on Peshawar School


MCT Campus

Civilians carry a wounded child out of the school attacked by militants in Peshawar.

Jake Vogt, Staff Writer

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorist group recently carried out an attack on an Army school in Northern Pakistan.  On the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 16, nine gunmen entered Army Public School and Degree College and opened fire on teachers and students, according to The New York Times.  The eight- hour attack left 145 dead, 132 of whom were students at the school, and a similar amount were wounded, according The Times.

The TTP claimed the attack was in retaliation for the Pakistan army’s continuing military operation against militants in a tribal area close to Peshawar, along with the killing of Taliban fighters and harassment of their families.  The TTP had control of the tribal area north of Peshawar where the military offensive was taking place.

“We are doing this because we want them to feel the pain of how terrible it is when your loved ones are killed,” said TTP spokesman Muhammad Khorasani to CNET.

The attack on the school was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Pakistan, and the largest attack in the country that targeted children, the school-educated children of Pakistani military members, along with civilians living in the area.  The goal of the attack was to break morale among soldiers fighting against the Taliban, according to U.S. Government and Current Issues teacher Mr. Dennis Duffy.

The gunmen entered the school and targeted teenage students along with several teachers, some of whom were doused in gasoline and set on fire. The terrorists went classroom to classroom picking out students and opening fire on entire classrooms.

Pakistani Army commandos responded to the attack, surrounding the school and fighting a day-long battle until all nine terrorists were killed, according to CNET.

“What better way to make a military member think twice about prosecuting a war than to attack children, their children, and make them second guess their country’s drive and purpose.  It’s hard for us in the West to understand because philosophically it’s just not part of a South Asian view; human life doesn’t matter as much,” said Mr. Duffy.

In the U.S., and the West in general, there is a deeper respect for human life and the individual, which makes an attack on innocent children harder to comprehend.  However, in the Middle East and South Asian region, it is reality, innocent people are targets for terrorist groups to try and break down the spirits of the opposition, according to Mr. Duffy.

The TTP is a terrorist group underneath the Al-Qaeda “umbrella,” according to Mr. Duffy, and has no connection with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“Al-Qaeda is an umbrella organization…it provides support for its membership but its members are all individual terrorist groups around the world,” said Mr. Duffy.  The TTP is one of many members affiliated with Al-Qaeda and receives support from the group; the extent of the support is unknown.

ISIS is a group completely separate from Al-Qaeda and had no connection to the massacre.  ISIS broke away from Al-Qaeda several years ago over philosophical differences, according to Mr. Duffy.