KABUL, Afghanistan – A New York court has denied the request to compensate 9/11 victim families from Afghanistan’s frozen foreign reserves, terminating President Joe Biden’s executive order to split the $7 billion in Afghan asset between poverty-stricken Afghanistan and families of 9/11 victim.
The decision came a week after at least 77 family members of victims of 9/11 in a letter to United States President Joe Biden wrote “the Afghanistan central bank funds currently being kept in New York belong to the Afghan people,” urging the court to reconsider the case.
United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn made the recommendation that still is under review for a final decision. The court letter was tweeted by the Chargé d’Affaires of Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nation Naseer Ahmad Faiq.
“The Taliban’s victims have fought for years for justice, accountability and compensation. They are entitled to no less,” the posted letter said. “But the law limits what compensation the court may authorize, and those limits put the DAB’s assets beyond its authority.”
“The court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the turnover motion because the Judgment Creditors have not overcome DAB’s immunity from jurisdiction,” the letter elaborated. “And even if they had, the Court cannot find that DAB is an agency or instrumentality of the Taliban under TRIA § 201 without infringing on the President’s constitutional recognition prerogative.”
Fair said they coordinated with some government and non-government organizations to maintain the Afghan assets, as the court has given a 14-day period for the opposition to register their complaints should they have any.
“The decision denied the mentioned claim and appeal of the 9/11 victims based on legal rights,” he said, as TOLOnews quoted. “The other side had been given a 14-day period of time to register their complaints in case they oppose this decision.”
Meanwhile, Islamic Emirate leadership welcomed the court’s decision, saying Afghans were not involved in 9/11 attack and that they will be benefiting the asset as it should be.
“We welcome this. It is a good step. It is obvious that the Afghans were not involved in the 9/11 attack. The assets which are frozen now will hopefully be released,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate.
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Netburn’s recommendation will be reviewed by US District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan, who also oversees the litigation and can decide whether to accept her recommendation, said Reuters.
In February, President Biden signed an executive order to free $7 billion in Afghan assets now frozen in the US, splitting the money between humanitarian aid for poverty-stricken Afghanistan and a fund for families of 9/11 victims still seeking relief for the attacks that killed thousands.
The US State Department spokesman Ned Price at a recent press conference said that $3.5 billion in Afghan central bank reserves were preserved for the benefit of the Afghan people, seeking a mechanism that will ensure transparency throughout the process.
“What we are focused on right now are the ongoing efforts to enable those funds, the $3.5 billion in licensed Afghan central bank reserves, to be used for the benefit of the Afghan people,” Price told the press conference.
“And we’re seeking to find the best mechanism to ensure that those funds can go to the Afghan people in a way that doesn’t risk their diversion from the Taliban or other forces, including to potentially terrorist groups or terrorist actors.”
Da Afghanistan Bank (also known as the Afghan central bank) funds have been frozen in thirteen banks and eight countries since the collapse of former government, paralyzing its operations that regulate all banking and money handling in Afghanistan.