Afghan national women’s football team in hiding after terrorist attack


The terrified teenage footballers of the Afghanistan Women’s National Team had been “in the footsteps of freedom” of the Taliban thanks to a US-led mission to save them – only to be thwarted by the devastating suicide bombing in airport last week.

The girls, aged 14 to 16, had tried to flee with their families at least five times thanks to a high-level international effort, including with the help of members of Congress and former military and military officials. American intelligence.

The mission, dubbed “Operation Soccer Balls”, is set to mark last week – until the IS attack that killed 169 Afghans and 13 US servicemen at Kabul airport, according to The Associated. Press.

Now that the West has put an end to mercy flights, girls have been forced into hiding from the Taliban, who banned girls from going to school during its previous brutal rule of 1996-2001.

International efforts to rescue the Afghan women’s national team and football federation staff suffered a crushing setback after a suicide bombing explosion at Kabul airport on August 26.
AP Photo

“They are devastated,” Farkhunda Muhtaj, captain of the Afghanistan women’s national team, told the PA that the team she said was “footsteps of freedom” at the time.

“They are desperate, given the situation they find themselves in,” Muhtaj said.

“Operation Footballs” also involves members of Congress as well as former US military and intelligence officials. Members of the women’s squad – most of whom were evacuated to Australia last week – are also helping.

Members of the Afghanistan Girls' National Football Team and their families are seen in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 29, 2021.
Members of the Afghanistan Girls’ National Football Team and their families are seen in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 29, 2021.
AP Photo

Former Congressional Leader Robert McCreary, who was a White House official under President George W. Bush, said rescuers feel personally responsible because the United States helped the girls go to the hospital. school and playing football.

“We have to protect them now,” he told the AP. “They shouldn’t be in danger for the things we helped them do.

“They are just amazing young girls who should be playing in the yard, playing on the swing, playing with their friends, and here they are in a very bad situation for doing nothing more than playing football,” a- he declared.

Afghan girls up to the age of sixteen from the Afghan national team participate in a football training session at a military club in Kabul on June 20, 2010.
The girls were forced into hiding from the Taliban.
AFP via Getty Images

“We have to do whatever we can to protect them, to put them in a safe situation. “

Australia, France and Qatar have expressed interest in helping, and McReary said he had urged the Taliban to facilitate the girls’ exit as a sign of goodwill.

“If we can put a bubble of protection around these women and young girls… I really believe the world will stand up and take notice and have a lot of offers to welcome and house them,” McCreary said.

Members of the Afghan national girls' soccer team and their families are seen in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday, August 29, 2021. International efforts to save them and the staff of the soccer federation suffered a crushing setback during the week last after a suicide bomb explosion at Kabul airport and the CIA detonated its last outpost to prevent sensitive information and equipment from falling into the hands of the Taliban.
Rescuers feel personally responsible because the United States has helped the girls go to school and play football, according to former congressman Robert McCreary.
AP Photo

The mission proved problematic in part because of the size of the group, which totaled 133 people, including the 26 members of the youth team. Many do not have passports or other documents needed to board the flights, the AP said.

Nic McKinley, a CIA and Air Force veteran who founded a Dallas-based nonprofit that has secured homes for 50 Afghan families, said the situation shows it’s not just those who helped the West to deserve to be saved.

“What about the little girl who just wants to kick a ball and wants to do it right, and worked hard to do it at a world class level who suddenly finds herself in danger just because she wanted to? just play a sport and I had the passion to play this sport? ” he said.

“The only thing they did wrong in the eyes of the Taliban (…) is the fact that they were born girls and that they had the audacity to dream of doing something”, he said. declared.

With post wires

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