Female Afghan Pilot Seeks Asylum


The Afghan air force’s only female pilot has asked for asylum in the U.S., saying it’s too dangerous for her to return to her own country. Capt. Niloofar Rahmani finished a type course on C-130s with the U.S. Air Force last Thursday and promptly requested to stay in the U.S. She had been training in the U.S. for more than a year. “I would love to fly for my country—that is what I always wanted to do,” Rahmani told The Wall Street Journal in an interview from Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, where she did the Hercules course. “But I’m scared for my life.” She said she’d like to continue flying for the Air Force or become an airline pilot.

Although she was celebrated in the media, there were many in Afghanistan who didn’t like what she represented and there were threats made against her, even from within her own family. Rahmani defied specific orders from the Afghan air force against trying to leave the country after overseas training but her U.S. lawyer Kimberly Motley said she had no choice. “There are great concerns for her safety if she returns. The threats she has received have been well documented,” she said. “Unfortunately, some of her superiors within the Afghan military have failed in their duty to protect her.” As a Muslim, she faces additional hurdles in fleeing to the U.S. in light of President-elect Donald Trump’s repeated promises to freeze Muslim immigration to the U.S.