The captain of the Afghan robotics team that made international headlines, recently lost her father to a terrorist attack Tuesday.
Islamic State suicide bombers attacked hundreds of worshipers at the Jawadya mosque near Herat Tuesday evening, killing 37 and injuring 66 others. Among the the dead was Mohammed Asef Qaderyan, father to 14-year-old Fatemah Qaderyan, reports the New York Times. “Fatemah’s father could not survive the injuries and lost his life,” Ali Reza Mehrban, the team’s director, revealed to Al Jazeera.
ISIS has launched deadly attacks on Shiite worship centers in Afghanistan five times this year. Four attacks occurred in Herat, and one was in the capital city of Kabul.
Fatemah is part of a six-member robotics team of teenage Afghan girls that overcame adversity to participate in the FIRST Global Challenge in the U.S.
“We want to take the message of peace to America and convey that Afghanistan is not only the country of war, and there are girls who chase their dreams in robots and education,” she said at the time, arguing, “We are not a terrorist group to go to America and scare people.”
The girls were denied visas twice, but after an emotional plea from the team captain, President Donald Trump personally intervened.
The young but enthusiastic Afghan robotics team competed against teams from around 150 countries, winning a silver medal for their “courageous achievement” and strong positive attitudes. They returned home heroes, and were honored by the president of Afghanistan. “Their success shows that Afghan girls, despite the challenges, can be good inspirations in the field of knowledge and technology,” said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Fatemah’s father was killed ten days later.
“We are all devastated, Fatemah hasn’t eaten or spoken since the incident, and is in a state of shock,” a person close to the family explained to AFP. “[Fatemah] is very angry and is not eating or speaking to anyone, she is going through a very difficult time,” Mehrban introduced.
In an interview at the robotics competition in Washington, Fatemah said her father was her biggest supporter.
A story originally heralded by global media as one of hope is now one shrouded in tragedy.
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