Afghan Central Bank Welcomes US Court Ruling on $3.5 Billion

A district court judge in New York denied an attempt by the relatives of victims of the 9/11 attacks to seize $3.5 billion in Afghan assets.

Judge George B. Daniels of the Southern District of New York in a 30-page opinion letter said that the victims seizing those assets would amount to a ruling that the “Taliban” are Afghanistan’s legitimate government.

He also said that the court lacks the power to reach that conclusion and noted that that the Biden administration does not recognize the “Taliban” as Afghanistan’s government.

“The Taliban, not the former Islamic Republic of Afghanistan or the Afghan people–must pay for the Taliban’s liability in the 9/11 attacks,” he said.

The Central Bank of Afghanistan meanwhile called for the lifting of sanctions on the Afghan assets, saying that the foreign reserves should be used for support of Afghanistan’s financial system.

“Da Afghanistan Bank, as the country’s Central Bank that has the responsibility for the management of the Afghan assets, welcomes the decision of the district court of the US to not grant the Afghan assets to the victims of 9/11,” said Hassibullah Noori, a spokesman for the Central Bank.

“The government of Joe Biden froze the Afghan assets in New York to determine who has legal access to these assets,” said Seyar Qureshi, an economist.

The Chargé d’Affaires of the Afghanistan Permanent Mission to the UN, Naseer Ahmad Faiq, on Twitter praised the decision.

He also said he appreciated the “Open Society Justice Initiative and the legal team for their full support and tireless efforts.”

“All victims of terrorism deserve justice and compensation but from the real perpetrators,” he said.

This comes as a member of the Afghan Central Bank’s supreme council, Shah Mehrabi, said that the Central Bank needs to engage with US’s council to defend the $3.5 billion assets.

“The plaintiffs now will appeal to the second circuit court and I expect they will also increase their lobbying efforts in Congress to obtain direct judgement against Da Afghanistan Bank,” he said.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs said that the release of the assets would be effective for the economic development in Afghanistan.

“In the current situation, our people need humanitarian assistance. The release of the Afghan assets—as reserves and trade and trade accreditation of the country, has a direct impact on the economic and livelihood situation,” said Abdul Rahman Habib, a spokesman for the Ministry of Economy.

In February 2022, US President Joe Biden split the frozen Afghan assets into two parts, reserving about half to be spent on helping the Afghan people while leaving the remaining $3.5 billion for the families to seek in court. 

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