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

Feb. 16 2022

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

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy