9/11 survivors want Afghanistan’s $7bn funds in US paid as compensation

Published November 30, 2021
Family members and loved ones of those who died on 9/11 attend the 20th anniversary commemoration ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. — AFP/File
Family members and loved ones of those who died on 9/11 attend the 20th anniversary commemoration ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. — AFP/File

WASHINGTON: Families of the 9/11 victims want the entire $7 billion of Afghan assets — withheld at the US Federal Reserve — paid as compensation for the terrorist attacks that killed and injured thousands, the US media reported on Monday.

The New York Times reported that the Biden administration “is scheduled to tell a federal court on Friday what outcome would be in the US national interest,” — returning the money to Kabul or distributing it among the survivors and families of the 9/11 victims.

“The US Justice Department has been negotiating with lawyers for the 9/11 plaintiffs a potential deal to divide up the money, if the government supports their attempt to seize it,” the report added.

“The White House National Security Council has been working with agencies across the government to weigh the proposal.”

About 150 family members of Sept 11 victims went to the courts nearly 20 years ago to seek compensation for their losses. Almost 3,000 people were killed, and more than 5,000 were injured. The lawsuit named targets, like Al Qaeda and Taliban, who, they said, orchestrated the attack and therefore must pay the compensation as well.

A decade later, a court found the defendants liable by default and ordered them to pay damages now worth about $7 billion.

The judgment, however, seemed symbolic as the US invaded Afghanistan soon after the attacks, deposed the Taliban regime and decimated Al Qaeda.

On Aug 15 this year, the Taliban returned to power and claimed that about $7 billion of the Afghan central bank, frozen at the US Federal Reserve in New York, was rightfully theirs.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2021

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