Taliban Slams Biden's Order Freezing $7Bn in Afghan Assets as 'Theft and Moral Decline'

© AP Photo / TOM BRENNERU.S. President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, after his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States, U.S., January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
U.S. President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, after his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States, U.S., January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.02.2022
The New York Times reported earlier in the day that President Joe Biden was planning to ignore requests from the Taliban* to return $7 billion in Afghan assets deposited at the Federal Reserve in New York and instead use half of the funds to compensate the families of victims of the 9/11 terror attacks.
The Taliban has described Washington's decision to freeze Afghan funds "theft" and "moral decline".

"The theft of blocked money belonging to the people of Afghanistan by the United States, as well as taking possession of it, is a showcase of the human and moral decline of the country and people," Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban political office, said on Twitter.

Earlier in the day, US President Joe Biden signed an order freezing $7 billion in Afghan assets with an eye to splitting the funds between victims of the 9/11 attacks and humanitarian aid for post-war Afghanistan.
The White House announced that the US will set up a trust fund in the months ahead to administer $3.5 billion of said funds that will be used to help the Afghan people.
The other half of the frozen Afghan assets would stay in the United States, pending court rulings on legal claims against the Taliban by victims of the 11 September 2001 terror attacks.

"As part of our ongoing work to address the humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan, President Biden signed an Executive Order (E.O.) to help enable certain U.S.-based assets belonging to Afghanistan’s central bank, Da Afghanistan Bank ('DAB'), to be used to benefit the Afghan people," the White House said in the Fact Sheet. "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 White House added that many US victims of terror have brought claims against the Taliban and are pursuing DAB assets in federal court.

"Because some of these plaintiffs currently have writs of execution against the DAB assets, the court will need to issue a further decision regarding the scope of those writs," it said. "Even if funds are transferred for the benefit of the Afghan people, more than $3.5 billion in DAB assets would remain in the United States and are subject to ongoing litigation by U.S. victims of terrorism. Plaintiffs will have a full opportunity to have their claims heard in court."

According to American officials, the plan is intended to benefit the people of Afghanistan, while keeping the money out of the hands of the Taliban and "other malicious actors".
The Biden administration froze the Afghan funds held in the United States after the Taliban took over the central Asian country in mid-August. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank have suspended activities in Afghanistan, withholding aid as well as $340 million in new reserves issued by the IMF in August 2021.
The Taliban has repeatedly urged Washington to heed a call by the United Nations to unfreeze the Afghan funds as the humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country deepens.
In January 2022, more 40 House lawmakers, led by representatives Jason Crow (Democrat, Colorado), Tom Malinowski (Democrat, New Jersey) and Peter Meijer (Republican, Michigan), called on President Biden to release a “substantial share” of the frozen reserves to relevant UN agencies. The lawmakers insisted those funds could be used to relieve some of the Afghan people’s suffering.
The group said that the worsening food crisis is largely behind the mass exodus from Afghanistan, and could be used by the local Daesh* offshoot - the Islamic State in Khorasan Province - to destabilise its foe, the Taliban, and seize more territory that could become a safe haven for terrorists.
At the same time, the lawmakers acknowledged that part of the frozen funds may be withheld to compensate the families of some of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The UN has warned that 1 million Afghan children are at risk of starving this winter, while the UN World Food Programme has said that 95 percent of Afghan households do not currently have enough food to eat.
*The Taliban is an organisation under UN sanctions for terrorist activities.
*Daesh is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.
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