Kabul (AFP) – Afghanistan will be forced to reconsider its policy towards the United States unless Washington reverses its decision to freeze some of the country’s assets as compensation for the victims of the September 11 attacks, the Taliban said on Monday. .
US President Joe Biden last week seized $7 billion in assets belonging to the previous Afghan government, in an attempt to divide the funds between compensating victims of September 11, 2001, the attacks on the United States and the aid desperately needed for post-war Afghanistan.
The move prompted an angry response from the country’s new Taliban leadership, who called the seizure a “theft” and a sign of “moral decay” in the United States.
“The September 11 attacks have nothing to do with Afghanistan,” said Monday’s statement, signed by deputy spokesman Inamullah Samangani.
“Any misappropriation of property of the Afghan people under the pretext of this incident is a clear violation of the agreement reached with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the statement added, using the name of the Taliban for the country.
“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.”
push for justice
Biden’s unusual step saw the divisive and highly sensitive issues of a humanitarian tragedy in Afghanistan, the Taliban’s fundamentalist struggle for recognition and push for justice for families affected by the 9/11 attacks collide, with billions of dollars at stake.
The money, which a US official says comes largely from foreign aid sent to help the defunct Western-backed Afghan government, had been locked up in the New York Federal Reserve since the Taliban victory last year. last.
The Taliban-appointed government – which fought US-led forces for 20 years and now controls all of Afghanistan – has not been recognized by any other nation, primarily because of its record on of human rights.
However, with an economic crisis gripping the country, Washington is looking for ways to help while avoiding hardline Islamists.
The White House said Biden would seek to funnel $3.5 billion of frozen funds into a humanitarian relief trust “for the benefit of the Afghan people and for the future of Afghanistan.”
The fate of the remaining $3.5 billion is more complex.
The families of those killed or injured in the 9/11 attacks using hijacked jetliners in New York and the Pentagon, as well as a fourth that crashed in Pennsylvania, have long struggled to find ways to obtain compensation from Al-Qaeda and other perpetrators.
In US lawsuits, groups of victims won default judgments against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, which harbored the shadowy terror group at the time of the attacks, but were unable to collect money.
They will now have the option of taking legal action to gain access to frozen Afghan assets.
Biden’s decision appears to have angered a majority of Afghans – even those who oppose the Taliban, who appear to have tapped into that resentment.
“In order for the United States to avoid international blame and harm its relationship with the Afghan people, it must reverse its decision,” Monday’s statement said.
“Release the Wealth of Afghans Unconditionally.”
© 2022 AFP