US President Joe Biden yesterday signed an Executive Order allowing some of the frozen assets from war-torn Afghanistan’s central bank to be distributed as assistance to the local people and to victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, a statement released by the White House said.
When Kabul was taken over by the Taliban in August 2021, Afghanistan had over $9 billion in reserves held in the name of Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB), or the central bank, outside of the country. This includes $7 billion in reserves held in the US, with the rest of the reserves largely being in Germany, the UAE, Switzerland, and a couple of other states.
“The administration will seek to facilitate access to $3.5 billion of those assets for the benefit of the Afghan people and for Afghanistan’s future pending a judicial decision,” the statement said.
The statement further said that many American victims of terrorism, including relatives of those who died in the 9/11 attacks, have brought claims against the Taliban and are pursuing the DAB assets in federal court.
Due to this, “more than $3.5 billion in DAB assets would remain in the US and are subject to ongoing litigation by American victims of terrorism. Plaintiffs will have a full opportunity to have their claims heard in court”.
Senior administration officials clarified that signing of the Executive Order “is one step forward in a process, and no funds are going to be transferred until the court makes a ruling”.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Taliban’s political office in Doha Naeem Wardak slammed the US for not unfreezing the entire frozen assets.
In a tweet, he said: “Stealing the blocked funds of Afghan nation by the United States of America and its seizure (of those funds) shows the lowest level of humanity … of a country and a nation.”