9/11 Victims’ Families To Receive Billions Of Dollars Seized From Afghanistan Bank
$3.5 billion in Afghanistan state funds frozen by the United States is set to made available as compensation for the families of 9/11 victims.
President Joe Biden is reportedly expected to sign an executive order directing a total of $7 billion funds, which were deposited in a US bank account by the Afghan central bank prior to the Taliban takeover of the country last year, to be divided between the families and humanitarian relief for people in Afghanistan.
A source said that much of the money had been received through United States and international relief donations over the past two decades.
The decision comes following a court ruling in October last year that saw around 150 relatives of 9/11 victims obtain an order to have the funds seized, years after winning a default judgement against the Taliban in a civil lawsuit after the defendants failed to attend court.
Several other 9/11 victims groups have since laid claim to the funds, leading the Biden administration to intervene on the grounds of national interest.
President Biden's executive order is expected to confirm that half of the funds can be made available to 9/11 victims' families pending the outcomes of their litigation, with the other half set to be held in a trust fund to be spent on food and other forms of assistance for the Afghan people, the New York Times reports.
However the process comes with several complicating factors, including the fact that because the United States does not recognise the Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate rulers, it's not clear whether the money from the Afghan central bank can be considered the Taliban's and therefore be used to pay their debts to the 9/11 victims families.
Relatives of 9/11 victims are themselves divided over the decision, with one plaintiff, Ramon Melendez Sr., saying in a statement, 'I lost my wife on 9/11 due to the Taliban’s support for terrorism... I think some money should go to humanitarian relief for the Afghan people but I also want my legal judgment to be fully honored.'
In contrast, Barry Amundson, who lost his brother in the attacks, told the Times, 'I can’t think of a worse betrayal of the people of Afghanistan than to freeze their assets and give it to 9/11 families.'
The Biden administration is said to have been trying to figure out how to provide aid to the Afghan people without the money going to the Taliban since withdrawing from the country almost six months ago.
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