Biden Divides Afghan Funds

Taliban object to president's plan to split $7B between humanitarian aid and families of 9/11 victims
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2022 4:10 PM CST
Taliban Object to Biden Plan for Frozen Funds
An Afghan security guard holds an AK-47 rifle as women wait at an ATM to withdraw money Tuesday in Kabul. The Taliban want the US to return $7 billion in frozen assets to Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

(Newser) – President Biden signed an executive order Friday to move toward unfreezing about $7 billion in Afghan reserve funds now held in the US. The administration locked down the money in August to keep it from the Taliban when they overthrew Afghanistan's government. Biden's plan would split the money, with half going toward aid in Afghanistan and half to the families of 9/11 victims with legal claims against the Taliban, the Washington Post reports. The Taliban immediately objected to the US plan, saying the money isn't Biden's to spend.

"The frozen funds are the reserves of the Afghan central bank," said Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban representative to the UN. "This should be totally unfrozen and transferred to Afghan bank as reserves. We don't want what the [US] is planning." A court ruling is required to allow the half of the money going for humanitarian needs to be transferred, per NPR, because some families of 9/11 victims have claims filed against the assets. Biden's executive order acknowledges those claims. His plan could meet opposition in Congress from lawmakers who don't want to send aid that could help the Taliban.

To avoid that happening, that $3.5 billion would go into a trust fund administered by a third party. "We are going to be ensuring that there are very robust controls in place," an administration official said, emphasizing that the money "is not going to the Taliban; it is going to be used for the benefit of the Afghan people." The UN has forecast that severe hunger will affect most of Afghanistan's 40 million people this winter and that many will die, including children. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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