" 'Miss So-and-so has stopped going to school and will go to heaven,' he'd say," she wrote.
And you had only to walk around her hometown of Mingora, in the Swat Valley, to see what would happen if you crossed them -- women flogged in the street, decapitated men lying in the gutter.
But Malala defied the call. She went to school as normal, and listened to the Western music -- Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez -- of which she was fond.
She replaced her school uniform with plain clothes, to avoid attention; she wore a Harry Potter backpack, as shown in a documentary by Adam Ellick of The New York Times.
At one point, a Pashto television station interviewed schoolchildren, including Malala, about life in Swat. Soon thereafter, she spoke to a national broadcaster, Geo TV.
"I did not want to be silent, because I had to live in that situation forever," she said, nearly screaming the final word. "And it was a better idea, because otherwise they were going to kill us -- so it was a better idea to speak and then be killed."
A producer from the BBC approached her father about having one of his teachers blog about the experience of living under Taliban rule; instead, Malala volunteered herself.
"On my way from school to home, I heard a man saying 'I will kill you,' " she wrote on January 3, 2009. "I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone."
You cannot really tell Malala's story without talking about her father, Ziauddin.
In most Pakistani families, Ziauddin told Amanpour, when a girl is born, "a kind of sympathy is expressed with (the) mother," an acknowledgement of the fact that boys are vastly more valued than are girls.
Not so for Ziauddin.
"I usually tell people, don't ask me what I have done," he said. "Just ask me what I did not do. That is important. The only thing which I did not do, and I went against the taboos, and I went against the tradition -- that I did not clip the wings of my daughter to fly."
It is impossible to stand with Ziauddin and his daughter and not feel, as if by osmosis, the soul-wrenching love he feels for his daughter.
"She's the most precious person for me in my life," he told Amanpour. "And we are not only father and daughter, we are friends."
But to ask Malala, it is Ziauddin's personal courage, not his devotion to her, that has fueled her determination most.
"I also remember the time of terrorism, when no one was speaking, and my father dared to speak, and he raised up his voice," she said. "He was not afraid of death at that time. And he still not is."
Ziauddin, an English teacher by vocation, ran Khushal School, the girls' school that Malala attended.
"You blast my school and you will say, 'Don't condemn it.' It's very difficult," Ziauddin said of the Taliban. "You kill my people and say, 'Don't say anything.' "
"I think better to die than to live in such a situation," he told Amanpour. "I think that it's better to live for one day to speak for your right than to live for a hundred years in such a slavery."
Even when she had an international media profile, Malala worried that the Taliban would come for her father, not her.
"I was worried about my father, because I was not expecting Taliban to come for me," she said. "I thought that they might have a little bit manners, and their behavior would be -- somehow they would be like humans."
It was Ziauddin who encouraged Malala to speak up, and allowed her to give TV interviews, blog for the BBC and raise her international profile.
Did he, Amanpour asked, feel at all responsible for the violent attack that almost ended his daughter's life?
"No," he said emphatically. "Never."