US to equally distribute frozen Afghan assets among 9/11 victims

Washington: United States President, Joe Biden, has decided to distribute frozen Afghan assets equally among the Afghan people and the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

According to US media, the value of the frozen Afghan assets is estimated at 7 billion US dollars, which the Biden administration had been reluctant to return. According to the US presidential decree, of the 7 billion, President Joe Biden has decided to distribute the funds equally among the Afghan people and the victims of the 9/11 attack. This will make an estimated 3.5 billion, for both parties. 

The presidential decree which was signed on Friday states that the administration will have access to the frozen Afghan assets in the Federal Reserve of New York, of which only 3.5 billion will be spent on the welfare of the Afghan people and the future of Afghanistan. The order stated that the payment to the 9/11 victims would be suspended till the court comes to a decision. However, if the court allows, the Afghan people will be paid three and a half billion dollars immediately. 

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The US President’s order has also stated that the 3.5 billion in frozen funds will be transferred to the Afghan people, in ways that the money would not fall into the hands of the Taliban. The presidential decree was issued on Friday at a time when the US government was running out of time to file a response, to a lawsuit filed by the families of the 9/11 victims.

On the other hand, a Taliban spokesman has termed the US decision a sign of “theft” and “moral decay”. Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, reacted in a tweet following the decision, saying that seizing funds from Afghanistan’s central bank was “theft” and the lowest level of “human and moral decay”.

It should be noted that after the Taliban came to power, the United States froze Afghan funds. After taking control of Afghanistan in mid-August this year, the Taliban claimed that the government had a right to 7 billion in Afghan funds in the United States. It is pertinent to note that the 9/11 victims (families) had also approached the court to seek the funds. The families of the civilians killed and injured in the 9/11 attacks staged a protest in November last year, demanding compensation from the US government for frozen funds in Afghanistan. 

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In the United States, 7 billion in Afghan funds are frozen, while 150 families of those killed in the 9/11 attacks have gone to court for compensation. Ten years ago, the court ordered the US administration to pay 7 billion in damages. Last year, relatives and victims demanded that in return for a court order, the United States pay 7 billion in funds, frozen in Afghanistan.

In the past, the Taliban have warned that not returning Afghanistan’s frozen funds could lead to “problems.” As a result, Afghanistan will be further affected, not only economically, but also in large numbers as people will try to leave the country and seek asylum elsewhere. Since the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021, the country’s economic situation has continued to deteriorate, with the United Nations fearing that by mid-2022, the country’s poverty rate could reach 97 percent.

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