A recipient of the U.S. State Department’s “Women of Courage” award in 2015, Capt. Rahmani had been a symbol of efforts to improve the situation of women in her country, more than a decade after the fall of the Taliban regime.
Mohammad Radmanish, a defense ministry spokesman, said the government hoped that her request would be denied by U.S. authorities who have spent billions trying to build up Afghan security forces.
I guess she had just completed an 18-month course in the US at great cost to the US and Afghanistan, and now she doesn’t want to return to the country she promised to defend. She must have understood the risks when she began. They should really stop bringing those guys here to train – they don’t want to leave.
First female Afghan air force pilot asks US for asylum
Three years ago, Niloofar Rahmani became the first woman to earn her wings in Afghanistan's air force. But her place in history as an international symbol of female empowerment and courage has effectively cost her the ability to live in her homeland.
Now, she's seeking asylum in the United States.
Capt. Rahmani said it's no longer safe for her to live in Afghanistan. Her attorney, Kimberly Motley, said her client has received numerous threats from insurgents and condemnation from government officials.
"If she were to return to Afghanistan, she would be in fear of her safety," Motley told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."
'I always wanted to be a pilot'
Rahmani, 25, became the country's first fixed-wing pilot in 2013, fulfilling a lifelong dream -- one that her dad had hoped to accomplish.
"I always wanted to be a pilot," Rahmani said. "Being a pilot was my dad's dream."
For Rahmani, the goal was as much about honoring her father as it was telling the world that "girls can do the same job in Afghanistan that the men can handle."
She would go on to fly over 1,000 hours in the air -- devoting her life toward fighting the insurgency.
"She is a shining light for women, for immigrants, for Muslims around the world," Motley said.
From role model to lightning rod
The more Rahmani became a role model, the more she became a lightning rod of criticism that has drawn reaction from top Afghan military officials.
In response to her asylum request, Gen. Mohammad Radmanish asked the US to reject her asylum request because he was "sure she lied by saying she was threatened, just to win the asylum case."
Beyond personal threats she's received, her family has also received death threats, forcing them to relocate several times.
Over the past year, she had trained at air bases throughout the southern United States.
"There is a war, there is a violence, there is discrimination against the female in Afghanistan," she said.
A plea to the president
Tapper, who has asked Donald Trump about Rahmani and other Muslim women, gave the pilot a chance to relay a message to the president-elect.
"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," she said. "Unfortunately, as a Muslim Afghan female, I always try to fight against ISIS."
Her asylum application is now pending.
Niloofar Rahmani, first female Afghan air force pilot, applies for U.S. asylum
LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Capt. Niloofar Rahmani, the first female pilot in the Afghan air force, has requested asylum in the United States over fears for her safety, her lawyer said.
Kimberly Motley, Rahmani's lawyer, told CNN Rahmani has received death threats from insurgents and condemnation from Afghan government officials. She has been training at air bases in the United States for the past year and most recently completed training in Little Rock, Ark.
Motley said Rahmani's family has relocated several times due to death threats.
"If she were to return to Afghanistan, she would be in fear of her safety," Motley said.
In 2013, Rahmani, 25, became Afghanistan's first fixed-wing pilot. She received the U.S. Department of State's International Women of Courage Award in 2015, when she was praised by U.S. first lady Michelle Obama.
"Rahmani is as committed to encouraging other young women to follow in her footsteps now as she was as an 18-year-old dreaming of flight school," Obama said during a ceremony.
Rahmani said she wants to continue flying if her asylum request is granted -- either as a commercial pilot or for the U.S. Air Force.
"I would love to fly for my country -- that is what I always wanted to do. But I'm scared for my life," Rahmani told The Wall Street Journal.