Fact Check: Female Afghan Pilot Was NOT Stoned To Death In Public -- She's Alive And In The US

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Female Afghan Pilot Was NOT Stoned To Death In Public -- She's Alive And In The US She's Alive

Was a female Afghan pilot stoned to death in public? No, that's not true: The reports that claimed Afghanistan's second woman pilot, Safia Ferozi, was stoned to death by the Taliban came with a photograph of a different woman who was lynched by a mob in Afghanistan in 2015. Ferozi gave an interview to Stars and Stripes published on December 20, 2021, confirming she is alive. She left Afghanistan as the Taliban were taking over and moved to the United States.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) on August 19, 2021. It opened:

Afghanistan Air Force's first female fighter pilot Safiya Firoze was stoned to death by the Taliban this morning.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Dec 22 18:01:55 2021 UTC)

The image in the August 19, 2021, Facebook post is a picture of Ferozi. However, a graphic image that accompanied many social media posts, one that can be found here, purporting to be of Ferozi were not of the pilot but of Farkhunda Malikzada, who was lynched by a mob in Afghanistan in 2015. The New York Times published a report on December 26, 2015, of Malikzada's death after she was accused of burning a Quran. The New York Times article includes a violent and graphic video showing her brutal murder.

Stars and Stripes described Ferozi's departure from Afghanistan:

She flew out of Kabul on Aug. 15 with her husband, Jawad Najafi, and their 5-year-old daughter Nargis shortly after the capital fell to the Taliban.
An American adviser had helped the family board a U.S. military transport plane to Qatar, she said.

It continued:

As rumors of her death spread unbeknownst to her, Ferozi was giving birth to a daughter at a U.S. military base in Qatar, she said.

Ferozi told the publication she believed she could have been killed had she remained in Afghanistan:

More than 100 former members of the Afghan security forces have been executed or forcibly disappeared by the Taliban despite a proclaimed amnesty, said a recent report by Human Rights Watch.

"If I was in Afghanistan, I'm sure it would have happened to me," Ferozi said

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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