Afghan woman had her NOSE and EARS chopped off by the Taliban after being forced to marry fighter at 14
PAIN, suffering and oppression look set to return to Afghanistan as the Taliban took back control – and few have lived to tell a more horrific tale of the terror group than Bibi Aisha Mohammadzai.
Taliban fighters mutilated her face when she was just 18 – chopping off her ears and nose – when she attempted to flee from the husband she had been forced to marry while still a child.
Aisha's story shocked the world when she first appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 2010 revealing her striking injuries.
It was a tale which showed the continuing brutality of the Taliban almost a decade after they had been ousted from power by the US, the UK and their allies in 2001.
Alongside the striking picture of Aisha, Time magazine asked the question on their cover "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan?" in 2010.
Just over 11 years on since its publication on August 9 the question has been answered – as the Taliban rampaged back to power in a matter of weeks.
Her story may be more relevant than ever as the militants seized Kabul and declared themselves the rulers of Afghanistan.
Women are feared to face the worst of the extremist group's brutality, with reports of children as young as 12 being listed for forced marriages.
And there have been reports of a woman being shot for wearing "tight clothes" and women being told they cannot leave home without a male chaperone.
Women were viciously oppressed – facing torture, execution and being second class citizens – when then the militant group last controlled Afghanistan in the 90s.
The Taliban's official spokesmen continue to insist they have modernised, but fears reign from human rights groups that nothing has changed.
It comes as…
- Joe Biden said he "stands squarely behind" his decision to pull US troops out of Afghanistan
- Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab admitted Nato allies were surprised by the "pace and scale" of the Taliban takeover
- The SAS are to join a "Dunkirk-style" rescue mission to save 6,000 Brits from Kabul airport
- The UK Ambassador will stay "for as long as possible" to help the evacuation
- A British student who went on holiday to Kabul says he has been safely evacuated
Aisha had been promised to a Taliban fighter by her dad when she was just 12-years-old – and had been forced to marry him when she was 14.
After four years of suffering vicious abuse and being treated like a slave, she attempted to escape – but was captured and sentenced to prison by a religious judge.
Five months in jail saw her finally released back to her family, but then just before the midnight the Taliban came to her home in Uruzgan.
Being led by her husband and a senior militant commander, they dragged her into the mountains near village.
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She was beaten – but the worst was yet to come, as the commander ordered the men to slice off her nose and ears.
Aisha's brother-in-law held her down, while her husband butchered her face.
Passing out from the pain, she awoke when she started choking on her own blood – finding she had been left to die on the mountainside.
She crawled to her grandfathers house but was refused help – and ended up having to find medical aid at a US military base.
From there she decided to flee Afghanistan, escaping to the US as a refugee where she managed to get reconstructive surgery for her brutal injuries.
Aisha was adopted by an Afghan-American couple and now lives in Maryland – having to undergo 12 surgeries to repair her face.
"They are the people that did this to me," Aisha said of the Taliban in 2010.
She said the violence left her too scared to look at her own face in the mirror, but since moving to the US and getting the surgery she has regained her confidence.
Her story is just one of many tales of brutality against women meted out by the Taliban.
Taliban militants in 2016 beheaded a woman for going shopping alone while her husband was away from home in the village of Larri.
Footage from 2012 captured Taliban militants shooting a woman named Najiba, 23, in the back of the head as she sat in a ditch in Qol.
While another horrific video showed another woman named Rokhshana, 19, being stoned in a shallow grave in Ghor in 2015.
Najiba was accused of adultery, while Rokhshana was accused of having sex with her boyfriend outside of marriage.
Video captured earlier this year showed an unnamed woman screaming as she was whipped by a Taliban fighter accused of talking to a man on the phone.
And in one of the most infamous pictures ever captured of Taliban brutality, a woman named Zarmina, a mum-of-five, was executed in the middle of a football stadium in Kabul in 1999.
She was accused of murdering her husband – who she was forced to marry aged 16 had been beaten by every night throughout their marriage.
Her children were also placed in prison alongside her – and two of them were reportedly sold into sexual slavery by the Taliban.
During the group's five year rule throughout the 90s women were left housebound, only being able to leave with a male chaperone and while wearing a full burqa.
"The face of a woman is a source of corruption", according to the Taliban.
Women are banned from working, banned from education over the age of 8, restricted from seeing doctors and face the constant threat of flogging or execution for any breaches of "moral" laws.
Afghan government officials warned the return of the Taliban would spell a return of the oppression of women just days before the fall of Kabul.
And with reports women TV presenters are no longer appearing on screen, pictures of women being painted over, and female-centric businesses being closed – things are already starting to go backwards.
Shocking scenes yesterday saw thousands of Afghans try to flee Kabul as they desperately clung to a US Air Force plane's landing gear – with some falling to their deaths.
The muddled withdrawal from the country has been widely compared to the US evacuation of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.
Timeline of Taliban victory
THE Taliban surged to victory quicker than anyone expected…
April 14 – President Joe Biden announces US troops will withdraw from Afghanistan starting on May 1 and ending on September 11.
May 4 – Taliban fighters launch a major offensive on Afghan forces in southern Helmand and at least six other provinces.
June 7 – Government officials say fighting is raging in 26 of the country's 34 provinces.
June 22 – Taliban fighters launch a series of attacks in the north of the country, far from their traditional strongholds in the south.
July 2 – American troops quietly pull out of their main military base in Afghanistan – Bagram Air Base, ending US involvement in the war.
July 21 – Taliban insurgents control about a half of the country's districts, according to the senior US general, underlining the scale and speed of their advance.
July 25 – US vows to continue to support Afghan troops "in the coming weeks" with intensified airstrikes to help them counter Taliban attacks.
July 26 – The United Nations says nearly 2,400 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in May and June in escalating violence, the highest number for those months since records started in 2009.
August 6 – Zaranj in the south of the country becomes the first provincial capital to fall to the Taliban in years and many more the ensuing days, including the prized city of Kunduz in the north.
August 13 – Four more provincial capitals fall in a day, including Kandahar, the country's second city and spiritual home of the Taliban. In the west, another key city, Herat, is overrun.
August 14 – The Taliban take the major northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and, with little resistance, Pul-e-Alam, capital of Logar province just 40 miles south of Kabul.
August 15 – The Taliban take the key eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight, effectively surrounding Kabul.
August 16 – The world watches on as the West desperately tries to evacuate its citizens as the Taliban seize power in Afghanistan.
US President Joe Biden was bullish yesterday as he tried to shake off any criticism over the troop pull out which heralded Afghanistan's collapse.
The plan was set in motion by his predecessor Donald Trump who signed a peace deal with the Taliban, but Biden's rapid and seemingly ill-manged execution has been widely condemned.
He admitted being taken by surprise by the speed of the Afghan government’s collapse – but piled blame of the country's leadership.
Biden said: “The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.
"So what's happened? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country."
On Sunday Boris Johnson blamed the US for the advancement of the Taliban in Afghanistan claiming President Biden "accelerated" their control.
The Prime Minister said the "difficult" situation had been exacerbated by the President's decision to withdraw troops from the war-torn country.
In the wake of a Cobra meeting on Sunday afternoon, Mr Johnson said it was "fair to say the US decision to pull out has accelerated things, but this has in many ways been a chronicle of an event foretold."
He urged the West to come together to stop Afghanistan again becoming a "breeding ground for terrorism" after the Defence Select Committee chairman warned of terrorist attacks on the West "on the scale of 9/11."
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