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.