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Threats bring Afghan girl back to US

By John Rogers

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A little Afghan girl whose love of painting won the hearts of U.S. doctors who fitted her with a prosthetic arm returned to the United States on Thursday, after the group that sponsored her first visit said it learned her newfound celebrity made her a subject of death threats at home.

Six-year-old Shah Bibi Tarakhail arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday morning on the last leg of a journey from Kabul.

She has been granted a six-month visa, but Amel Najjar, executive director of the nonprofit Children of War Foundation, said her group is looking into permanent residency status for her, perhaps as a political refugee.

Najjar said all the attention has made the girl a target of insurgents in Afghanistan, who railed against her exposure to Western culture.

The father told the group that he and his daughter had been in hiding and separated from the rest of their family since her return to Afghanistan in April. However, the girl had grown so depressed that he had her hospitalized.

"Her father called us a week ago, said she'd been in a hospital near the Pakistani border and her life was in danger," Najjar said. "Her father said, 'I can't care for her anymore and it's at a point where she needs to be out of here sooner rather than later.'"

The girl lost her right arm last year when she picked up a grenade following a firefight between U.S. and Taliban forces in her village near the Pakistan border. The explosion, which killed her brother, also destroyed her right eye.

After doctors at Shriners Hospital For Children fitted her with a prosthetic arm she quickly adapted and resumed painting, something she revealed was her favored pastime in Afghanistan.

After a stop at a restaurant Thursday for a soda and chicken nuggets, she headed back to the hospital to be checked out before going home with Najjar. She'll move in with a host family next week.

The child broke into a huge grin when reunited with her physical therapist.

"You remember me?" Vivian Yip asked as Shah Bibi rushed to embrace her.

Soon she was demonstrating that, although her prosthetic had lost one of its straps, she hadn't lost any of her skill. She was stringing children's blocks together with yarn, cutting up a pink sheet of paper and drawing a happy face on it. Then, with Yip's help, she signed her name.

She cocked her head, smiled and said "Thank you," when someone praised her work.

Just before she returned home last April, Children of War had arranged a lesson for her with prominent abstract expressionist Davyd Whaley, who praised her talent. After Galerie Michael in Beverly Hills showed her work around, she received an invitation to visit the Picasso Museum in Spain.

Whaley has offered her another lesson at the gallery.

Before she enrolls in school in the fall, her doctors plan to fit her with a prosthetic eye. They'll eventually treat some of the scars she sustained when the grenade exploded.

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ppasake1 June 19 2014 at 9:40 PM

Regardless of our political differences and the state of our economy, there is no place on earth like the USA. There are no better people and no bigger hearts.

God Bless.

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17 replies
stengernc June 19 2014 at 9:23 PM

If the Taliban represents the thinking of their god and how they treat children and women may they and their god rest in hell for all eternity.

Flag Reply +98 rate up
20 replies
Randy1953 June 19 2014 at 9:33 PM

What kind of heartless animals target a six year old girl for death ? Nothing more than criminals !

Flag Reply +82 rate up
21 replies
John June 19 2014 at 9:41 PM

Islam the most evil cult in the universe. We really need to kill all of them before they kill all of us. Their holy book demands that they murder all non-muslims so we will just be saving ourselves.

Flag Reply +80 rate up
24 replies
lynneyvonn June 19 2014 at 9:33 PM

The group making threats against this poor child are godless. God doesn't hate anyone (especially children) and the lack of respect for a young female life is I am sure hateful to god. Hate and violence in the name of the divine (no matter what name you give the divine) is an abomination, and has nothing to do at all with god.

Why is this so hard to grasp????

Flag Reply +62 rate up
5 replies
Mike June 19 2014 at 10:13 PM

Taliban...tough guys. Targeting little girls, while they themselves wear dresses in public

Flag Reply +61 rate up
5 replies
Brenda June 19 2014 at 9:44 PM

That little girl deserves a good happy life.

I'm beginning to hate the Taliban and the rest of the "radical Muslims" more each day.

What I'm think of the Unholy Taliban can't be posted. (It would be considered profane.)

Flag Reply +40 rate up
3 replies
Rich June 19 2014 at 10:14 PM

To hell with all the the radical Muslums !!!

Flag Reply +33 rate up
7 replies
philboxer June 19 2014 at 9:50 PM

in 50 years, the western world will regret that we did not kill ALL 1.2 billion muslims. It will be too late.

Flag Reply +29 rate up
9 replies
Velocity105 June 19 2014 at 9:48 PM

Really they need to use Sarin or some kind of Mustard gas to wipe muslim rebels off the Earth forever. They have no place in a world trying to fight to survive global warming, pollution, greed and resource depletion.

Flag Reply +18 rate up
10 replies
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