KABUL, Afghanistan – 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,” arguing the pending court’s decision is “morally wrong” if decided otherwise.
Nearly seven billion dollars of Afghan assets are kept in the United States of America, and half of this money is waiting for the court’s decision on whether it will be handed over to the victims of the 9/11 attacks or not.
The letter wrote that any use of the $7 billion to pay off 9/11 family member judgments is “legally suspect” and “morally wrong.”
“We ask you to use your executive power to modify your recent order and commit to the only legally and morally correct approach – affirming that all $7 billion of the Afghan central bank funds being kept in New York belong to the Afghan people,” the letter reads, as TOLOnews quoted.
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.”
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.
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Last week, in a letter to United States President Joe Biden, more than 70 economists and experts, including Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, urged Washington to release Afghanistan’s central bank assets.
The letter, also addressed to US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, was signed by 71 economists and academic experts, many based in the United States as well as Germany, India and the United Kingdom.
Among those who organized the letter was Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek Minister for Finance; and Joseph Stiglitz, a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and is on the advisory board to the Washington-based think tank, the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
They urged foreign capitals needed to return the $7 billion in Afghan central bank assets to Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) to allow the economy to function.
“In order to mitigate the humanitarian crisis and set the Afghan economy on a path toward recovery, we urge you to allow DAB to reclaim its international reserves,” Reuters said, quoting the letter.
Economists believe the country is severely hampered by the inability of its central bank to function without access to its reserves, with DAB officials saying it has the ability to manage well if the frozen assets of Afghanistan are released.
“This is Afghans’ money, we are prepared for a third department to oversee it, and we are aware of its uses,” said Lutfulhaq Noor Pesarlai, a senior advisor of the bank, as TOLOnews quoted.
“What more can you say about the central bank’s independence,” he question? “We totally agree with the investigation of money and its use in accordance with the law, the financing of terrorism, and the application of the drug legislation.”
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.