All Things Soldier: Asylum For An Afghani Air Force Pilot?

These days there is a lot of spirited discussion with regard to immigration in general, and how to protect ourselves from ISIS. Striking a balance between liberty and security while not infringing upon the Constitutional rights of Muslims who are genuinely here in good faith because they want to be a part of the American experience is no small task. It is a “Gordian knot” that is not going to be untangled any time soon.

However, there is an Afghani woman who is seeking asylum in America that in my view is worthy of our most ardent protection. Her name is Captain Niloofar Rahmani, and she is the first female to have become a fighter pilot in the Afghani Air Force. She has fought ISIS from the air, has more than 1,000 hours of combat flight hours under her belt, and now her life as well as the lives of her family members are in danger.

Niloofar has wanted to be a pilot all her life, and ironically, it was her dad who kindled that flame. He had wanted to be a pilot, too, and for him it had never worked out. In 2013, Niloofar earned her wings, and she said that in part, her reason to do so was to honor her dad.

All was well for awhile. Captain Rahmani was hailed as a heroine in Afghanistan, and did much to inspire her countrymen, both male and female. However, the more she accomplished in the Air Force, the less safe she and her family became, and some of the pushback and threats originated within the Afghani government.

Meanwhile, as part of her training and ongoing certification, Niloofar trained in the US, mostly at bases in the South. It was during her time here in the States that she became aware that her family had had to move several times in order to dodge death threats. That was when she decided to seek asylum and retained a lawyer by the name of Kimberly Motley to help plead her case. Recently, the two of them were interviewed by CNN’s Jake Tapper, and Tapper has made President-elect Donald Trump aware of Niloofar’s situation. Captain Rahmani said the following: “I understand the problem with ISIS and the people who say they’re Muslim, and doing this by showing the world how bad Muslims are. Unfortunately, as a Muslim Afghan female, I always try to fight against ISIS.”

I would think that this is exactly the kind of person that we would all like to go to bat for, but that is not the case with Captain Rahmani’s commanding officer. Sadly, General Mohammad Radmanish has requested that the United States reject her request for asylum. In part, the General said that he was “sure she lied by saying she was threatened, just to win the asylum case.”

When I think about the fact that just last week an Afghani woman was stoned to death because she went to the market alone, unescorted by her husband, my money is on Captain Rahmani’s claim that she is no longer safe. And I hope that for all the reasons that make our country great, she will find refuge here, and soon.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner