Why would the Taliban attack an Islamic university?

The Taliban have taken credit for yesterday’s suicide attack at the International Islamic University in Islamabad. As noted in yesterday’s report on the attack, the Taliban have no problems with striking at mosques and other religious institutions and events. I’ve received several questions as to why the Taliban would strike at an Islamic university. Dawn and the Australian Broadcasting Network provide the answers, summarized here.

1) More than 6,000 women are among the 17,000 students at the International Islamic University in Islamabad. To the Taliban, women attending schools is against sharia.

2) There are more than 2,000 foreign students from 45 countries (mostly from China and Africa, according to Dawn. The foreigners are prime targets for the Taliban.

3) One of the suspected targets, the chairman of the Imam Abu Hanifa Block, is “known for his liberal views” on Islamic law.

4) The Taliban want to provoke reactions such as the ones below – the denunciation of the military operation in South Waziristan and citizens turning on their government.

Waris Sheikh is the father of a student injured in the latest attack. He wants the military to abandon its offensive in South Waziristan.

“Surely it should be stopped, otherwise we will be killed for America and for other NATO countries,” he said.

“This is not opinion of the people to do this attack. This is the opinion of the Government.”

The Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, arrived at the scene of the latest blast but he received an angry reception from students who say the Government is failing to protect its citizens from terrorism.

Mr Malik only stayed for a few minutes before he was forced to flee. Students threw dirt and bricks at his convoy as he left.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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