Judge Blocks 9/11 Victims' Claim to Afghan Assets
A US district judge ruled on Tuesday that victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks aren't entitled to seize $3.5B worth of assets belonging to Afghanistan's central bank, as such a move would legally mean that the US considers the Taliban to be Afghanistan's legitimate government.
- A US district judge ruled on Tuesday that victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks aren't entitled to seize $3.5B worth of assets belonging to Afghanistan's central bank, as such a move would legally mean that the US considers the Taliban to be Afghanistan's legitimate government.
- Manhattan judge, George Daniels, said he was "constitutionally restrained" from approving access to the funds frozen in the US, adding that the Taliban, not the former Islamic Republic of Afghanistan or the Afghan people, were liable for the Sept. 11 attacks.
- In his 30-page written opinion, Daniels also noted that federal courts lacked the legal jurisdiction to seize the funds, writing that the families and insurance companies "are entitled to collect on their default judgments" from the Taliban, but not from the Afghan Central Bank's funds.
- Several creditors' groups have been trying to tap into some of the $7B of Afghan central bank funds — half of which were set aside by Washington in February 2022 to help address the country's humanitarian crisis. The groups are reportedly planning to appeal.
- The Taliban has not yet been recognized as Afghanistan's legitimate government by a single nation since the Islamist group's takeover in 2021, following the withdrawal of US forces.
- Al-Qaeda, an Islamist extremist network, planned the attacks on Sept. 11 from Afghanistan, before hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in northern Virginia, and a fourth jet crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.
Sources: Reuters, BBC News, New York Times, VOA, Barrons, and Yahoo.
- Narrative A, as provided by Politico. Daniels made the right decision. The Sept. 11 attack was horrific, but not a single one of its perpetrators was an Afghan. While al-Qaeda used Afghanistan as a base, the country's population is innocent of the crime and should not have to suffer so as to compensate the families of the victims. Biden overreached his power and made a morally questionable move in earmarking these funds as potential compensation last year.
- Narrative B, as provided by Brookings. Though the issue of reparations for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks has been portrayed as resulting from Biden's executive order to split the Afghan funds last year, in reality, the order was in response to an already ongoing litigation and the Biden admin. managed the situation as delicately as possible — respecting the US justice system's role in determining how some of the assets may be used, while also shielding half of the funds to ensure they would go to humanitarian aid.
- Narrative C, as provided by FT. Even if Biden has acted entirely morally and diplomatically in this situation, it cannot be ignored that his poor international policy led to the return of Taliban rule to Kabul, and the subsequent quashing of the population's liberties. The administration's response to this issue is about more than just the Afghan assets, it's about Biden attempting to salvage his credibility and prove that the country is more to the US than just a convenient pawn in the greater struggle between American and Soviet global systems.