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Afghan Fighter Pilot Seeks Asylum

Why the First Woman to Serve as a Fighter Pilot in the Afghan Air Force Is Seeking Asylum

In 2013, Niloofar Rahmani became the first female fighter pilot in the Afghan air force, a step toward equality and sending a message of hope to women around the world.

Yet Rahmani's achievement ultimately resulted in considerable backlash against her and her family as she was suddenly a recognizable figure in a country where the Taliban still reigns. Now, Rahmani is seeking asylum in the United States.

In the three years since she became a fighter pilot, Rahmani, who is now 25, has encountered death threats from insurgents and even government officials, according to her attorney. Speaking to CNN, Rahmani's attorney Kimberly Motley said, "If she were to return to Afghanistan, she would be in fear of her safety."

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Rahmani has been training at air bases across the southern United States over the past year. During her interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Rahmani elaborated on her plea for asylum, "There is a war, there is a violence, there is discrimination against the female in Afghanistan."

While ranking members of the Afghan military have accused Rahmani of fabricating death threats to strengthen her asylum case, their criticism seems to support her case.

Rahmani, whose case is pending, appealed directly to the president-elect with her resolve to continue the fight against ISIS in the United States. "Unfortunately, as a Muslim Afghan female, I always try to fight against ISIS," she said.

Image Source: Getty / SHAH MARAI
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