Biden to split $7B in frozen Afghanistan funds to compensate 9/11 victims
President Biden on Friday is expected to sign an executive order that will begin the process to split $7 billion in frozen Afghanistan funds in the U.S. banking system to potentially compensate 9/11 victims and set up a trust fund for humanitarian aid to Afghan people, officials familiar with the situation told The New York Times.
When the Taliban took over Afghanistan last year, the U.S. froze the $7 billion in funds the country had in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The Taliban has sought the funds to be made available for themselves, while 9/11 victims said the money should be used to compensate them should courts green light the transfer.
Biden’s executive order is expected to direct $3.5 billion of $7 billion to be used to provide aid in Afghanistan without directly aiding the U.S.-labeled terrorist group, the Times reported. U.S. courts would still have to determine whether those funds could be transferred to a trust fund to support relief for Afghan people.
The order is additionally expected to move toward clearing a legal path for victims to seek compensation out of the other $3.5 billion. U.S. courts would also need to determine whether to grant victims access to those funds.
“We support the President’s recognition that the harms suffered more than 20 years ago have not been fully addressed, and that the process implemented under his new Executive Order will treat all of those with claims fairly, on equal footing, and in a transparent manner,” said Terry Strada with 9/11 Families United.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, victims won a lawsuit by default judgment against the Taliban and al Qaeda, with a judge ruling the terrorist organizations owe the victims $7 billion. At the time, it seemed impossible that the victims would get that money.
However, after the fall of Afghanistan to Taliban control in September, 150 relatives of those who died in the attacks got a judge to issue a writ of execution to the reserve’s legal department, according to The Times.
Since the Times reported on Biden considering a move to use the $7 billion to repay victims in November, other victims of the attacks have stepped up to claim compensation.
Lawyers for the victims in the case are the ones who proposed splitting the funds, as Afghanistan is suffering serious economic problems since the Taliban takeover, such as foot shortages.
The group has been hoping the U.S. would lighten its policies toward them since they took control of the war-torn country, but the U.S. has continued its hard-line stance against the terrorist organization.
— Updated Feb. 13 at 5:35 p.m.