Taliban call on Biden to reverse move to halve frozen Afghan funds

Published February 15, 2022
A Taliban fighter walks on a street, in Kabul, Afghanistan, in this Feb 6 file photo. — AP
A Taliban fighter walks on a street, in Kabul, Afghanistan, in this Feb 6 file photo. — AP

The Taliban on Monday warned that it would reconsider its policy towards the United States if President Joe Biden did not reverse his "unjustified" decision to return only half of Afghanistan's $7 billion deposited on US soil.

The United States will free up half of the $7 billion in frozen Afghan central bank assets on US soil to help Afghans struggling with a humanitarian crisis and hold the rest to possibly satisfy terrorism-related lawsuits against the Taliban.

"If the United States does not deviate from its position and continues its provocative actions, the Islamic Emirate will also be forced to reconsider its policy towards the country," said a statement from the Taliban released by its spokesman on Monday.

"The Islamic Emirate strongly rejects Biden's unjustified actions as a violation of the rights of all Afghans," it added.

Biden's plan calls for half of the funds to remain in the United States subject to ongoing litigation by US victims of terrorism, including relatives of those who died in the Sept 11, 2001, hijacking attacks.

"The 9/11 attacks had nothing to do with Afghans," the Taliban statement said.

Read: Afghans protest US order to give $3.5bn to 9/11 victims, central banks demands reversal of decision

While none of the Sept 11, 2001, hijackers were Afghan, the mastermind of the attacks, Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, was given refuge by the then Taliban government.

The statement said the United States will face "international blame" and damage its relations with Afghans if the decision was not reversed.

Separately, in an interview to the Afghan state media RTA, Mullah Yaqoob — the acting Afghan defence minister and the son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar — also termed the decision "cruel".

"No Afghan was involved in that incident (9/11) at all," said Yaqoob, whose father was the Taliban's supreme leader at the time of the attacks and refused to hand over bin Laden, following which the United States sent in its military to Afghanistan.

The invasion started a 20-year war that ended only last year after the United States and other international militaries pulled out of Afghanistan, leaving the Taliban to take over once again.

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