A dozen child and teenage female musicians in Afghanistan are in "grave danger" from the Taliban and need to be rescued after the from the country, according to Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello.
The girls, ranging in age from 4 to 19, are members of a school called Girl With a Guitar, a music school in Kabul founded by Lanny Cordola, a songwriter, producer and guitarist for bands such as Giuffria and House of Lords. On Monday, Morello wrote an open letter to the music community asking it to help Cordola get the girls and their families out of Afghanistan.
"I'm writing on behalf of some very special girls in Afghanistan who are in grave danger," Morello wrote in the letter, which Cordola sent to Billboard. "[Girl With a Guitar] takes in street orphans and other girls that have endured significant trauma and uses music as a rehabilitation tool and means of working through their problems, their histories, and their hopes."
"I've had the honor of collaborating with these wonderful kids. Since the Taliban takeover their school has been destroyed and the girls are in hiding," Morello continued. "They are at extreme risk because they are widely known to have performed Western music and have been educated by a male American teacher. Anything you could do to help save their lives would be much appreciated."
Cordola is in Pakistan trying to find a way to evacuate the girls. He had flown back to the U.S. to get his visa renewed when the Taliban took over Afghanistan.
"These are my little babies," Cordola said in an interview with CBS News. "We always talk about staying calm, but inside, I'm freaking out. ... I kind of vacillate between sadness and outrage and shock. ... I'm concerned that these beasts will get their hands on them."
Cordola's primary concern is the safety of the girls. Just before he spoke with CBS News on Tuesday, he said he spoke with a well-known Afghan musician who had just been attacked by the Taliban at his house. Cordola said the Taliban went to the musician's house Monday night and "tore his place apart."
The students have had a "hard time grasping" the situation in Afghanistan, Cordola said. He speaks with his students daily, he said, and has had to explain to them that "the old Afghanistan that you know is dead."
"They tell me that every night there's been gunfights between 1 and 4 o'clock in the morning," Cordola told CBS News.
Referencing the song "I Won't Back Down," Cordola said, "I'll stand at the gates of hell and won't back down until we get all these girls out."
Girl With a Guitar, which is a part of Cordola's nonprofit The Miraculous Love Kids, came to fruition in 2015, after Cordola met an 8-year-old girl who had survived an attack by a Taliban suicide bomber. Two of her sisters died in the attack.
"I brought a guitar with me, and basically, she just jumped right into the heart here," Cordola said, adding that she then asked him to become her teacher. "When an 8-year-old war-torn Afghan girl who just lost her two sisters asks you to be their guitar teacher, you can't say no to that."
Girl With a Guitar has closed since the Taliban took over. It operated out of Kabul, where the girls learned English, life skills and music and received a stipend. Several well-known musicians have worked, performed and recorded music with the girls, including Morello, The Go-Go's' Kathy Valentine, The Bangles' Vicki Peterson, The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, Sammy Hagar and Foo Fighters' Rami Jaffee.
"The music helps tell the story, not only of their lives and other war-torn, poverty-stricken kids," Cordola told CBS News, "but it tells the story of the human condition."
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