A New Executive Order Risks Sending Funds Claimed by Families of 9/11 Victims to the Taliban

Following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, the Taliban took control of the country, sending its long-troubled economy into a tailspin. Nearly 80 percent of the government’s budget had come from international funding, which was suspended following the terrorist organization’s takeover. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank in New York has frozen a $7 billion account that belonged to the former Afghan government.

On Friday, Presiden Biden signed an executive order aimed at unfreezing this account; half the money would go toward provide financial assistance to the Afghan people, who are in dire straits, and the other half would be placed in a humanitarian trust fund that may be used to support the families of 9/11 victims (though this is not guaranteed). Many of these families have been seeking restitution from the Afghan government for years and have forcefully protested this move. As Aamer Madhani and Kathy Gannon note, they argue that money that rightfully belongs to American citizens will almost certainly be confiscated by the Taliban.

Biden’s plan aims to resolve a complex situation in which the U.S. is sitting on billions owned by a country where there is no government it recognizes, with competing appeals for the money for the crying needs of the Afghan people and families still scarred by the 2001 attacks.

U.S. courts where 9/11 victims have filed claims against the Taliban will have to take additional action for victims and families to be compensated from the $3.5 billion, deciding if they have a claim, according to senior administration officials who brief reporters.

The Biden administration is still working through details of setting up the trust fund, an effort the White House says will likely take months.

Read more at U.S. News and World Report

More about: Afghanistan, Joseph Biden, Taliban, War on Terror

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security