9/11 victims can’t appropriate the assets of the central bank of Afghanistan: US judge


A US judge on Friday recommended that the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks not be allowed to appropriate billions of dollars in assets of the central bank of Afghanistan in response to court rulings. that they have for the Taliban.

U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Netburn in Manhattan said the Afghan Da Bank had no jurisdiction and that authorizing the arrest would effectively acknowledge the Islamist militant group as the Afghan government, something only the President of the United States has. can do.

“Taliban victims have been fighting for years for justice, accountability and reparation. They’ve enjoyed a lot,” Netburn wrote. “But the law limits the amount of compensation a court can allow, and those limits place DAB’s assets beyond its jurisdiction.”

Netburn’s motion will be reviewed by Judge George Daniels of the United States District of Manhattan, who also oversees the litigation and may decide whether to accept her offer.

The decision is a setback for four groups of creditors that have sued various defendants, including al-Qaeda, who were responsible for the September 11 attacks and received default sentences after The defendants did not appear in court.

At the time of the attacks, the ruling Taliban allowed al-Qaeda to operate inside Afghanistan.

The United States ousted the Taliban and al-Qaeda in late 2001, but the Taliban returned to power a year before the United States and other Western forces withdrew from the country.

Attorneys for the creditor group did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

These groups tried to tap some of the $7 billion in Afghan central bank funds that were frozen at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

In an executive order in February, US President Joe Biden ordered that $3.5 billion of it be set aside “for the benefit of the Afghan people”, leaving the victims to pursue the rest in court.

The U.S. government at the time took no position on whether groups of creditors were entitled to recovery under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002.

It urges Netburn and Daniels to consider narrow exceptions to sovereign immunity, citing risks of interference with the president’s power to conduct foreign relations and possible challenges. happens to U.S. assets abroad.

Other countries hold about $2 billion of Afghanistan’s reserves.

Shawn Van Diver, head of #AfghanEvac, an organization that helps evacuate and resettle Afghans, said he hopes the frozen money can be used to help the struggling Afghan economy. not enrich the Taliban.

“The judge did the right thing here,” he said.

Nearly 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001, when planes flew into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon in northern Virginia, and a field in Pennsylvania.

US sanctions prohibit financial business with the Taliban, but allow humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Jonathan Landay in Washington, DC; Editing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool)

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