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Former Afghan women’s soccer captain describes ‘nightmare’ Taliban rule after escape: ‘They are traumatized’

Former Afghan women’s soccer team captain Khalida Popal described the horrors of trying to escape Taliban rule following the successful escape of the entire team to the United Kingdom, calling the entire situation a “nightmare.”

Popal joined “Fox & Friends First” on Thursday to discuss her role in helping the players, some family members, and coaches flee from the war-torn country following the U.S. exit. 

“It was a nightmare that we had to leave everything and escape and hide,” Popal explained. “Some of their families were brutally beaten, some of the family members were taken by Taliban, their house[s] were bombed down, so they have been through a lot. They are traumatized.”

The U.S. withdrew its forces back in August, and although the Taliban assured the international community it would govern with civility and respect for basic human rights, reports have surfaced suggesting the opposite. 

U.S soldiers stand guard along a perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. On Monday, the U.S. military and officials focus was on Kabul’s airport, where thousands of Afghans trapped by the sudden Taliban takeover rushed the tarmac and clung to U.S. military planes deployed to fly out staffers of the U.S. Embassy, which shut down Sunday, and others. 

U.S soldiers stand guard along a perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. On Monday, the U.S. military and officials focus was on Kabul’s airport, where thousands of Afghans trapped by the sudden Taliban takeover rushed the tarmac and clung to U.S. military planes deployed to fly out staffers of the U.S. Embassy, which shut down Sunday, and others. 
(AP Photo/Shekib Rahmani)

“When the international community got out of Afghanistan, the first call I had with the footballers in Afghanistan were female footballers, they said our countrymen betrayed us, the world betrayed us,” Popal said. “The world let us fall in the hands of the enemy.”

“We did everything possible to participate actively in the society, but we have no more protection. The show is over,” she continued. 

Since the infamous withdrawal, the Taliban has been accused of heinous acts, with one Human Rights Watch report alleging the group is tricking former Afghan security forces to disclose their identities in order to pinpoint those who were loyal to the former government. 

As a result, more than 100 individuals have reportedly disappeared or been killed for their efforts.

“It was a nightmare for so many people, especially for women of Afghanistan,” Popal explained.

Afghan women’s soccer team safely evacuates amid Taliban fears Video

She continued, “When Taliban arrive[d], the first thing they did, they took the right of education from people, from women, the right of having basic human rights.”

The group of 130 people in total was able to escape with the help of the ROKiT Foundation, Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, and Kim Kardashian West, although it was not an easy journey along the way. 

The group first was able to flee into neighboring Pakistan, being brutally beaten along the way, and ultimately Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, and Kim Kardashian West teamed up to ensure the team was resettled in Europe. 

Kardashian West chartered a plane to bring the team to the United Kingdom, where the British Leeds soccer team is offering them positions to continue their passion for the game. 

Bailee Hill is an associate editor with Fox News Digital.

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