Ex-Afghan leader slams ‘unjust’ Biden $7bn order
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned on Sunday the US government’s move to divert some $3.5 billion in frozen Afghan assets held by US banks to families of 9/11 victims, branding it an “atrocity” against the country’s people. He stated that it was “unjust and unfair” since Afghanistan had also suffered at the hands of Al-Qaeda, the Associated Press reported.
Speaking at a press conference in Kabul, Karzai called on US courts and the American public – especially the relatives of 9/11 victims – to pressure President Joe Biden to reverse the executive order he signed on Friday that split some $7 billion in frozen Afghan reserves in the US between victims’ families and aid efforts for Afghans.
“The people of Afghanistan share the pain of the American people, share the pain of the families and loved ones of those who died, who lost their lives in the tragedy of September 11,” Karzai said, noting that Afghans are “as much victims as those families who lost their lives.”
Withholding money or seizing money from the people of Afghanistan in [the 9/11 victims] name is unjust and unfair and an atrocity against Afghan people.
Biden’s order invoked emergency powers to compel US banks to consolidate and “block” the assets, which belong to Da Afghanistan Bank, the country’s central bank. Although it set aside half the money for humanitarian relief efforts, the amount ultimately transferred depends on the outcome of a number of ongoing legal claims to compensate US victims of Taliban terrorism.
Noting that the assets do not “belong to any government,” Karzai asked US courts to “return the Afghan money back to the Afghan people.” He also argued against giving the funds to international aid organizations, calling instead for Afghans to get back “our own money so that it can be spent for those foreigners who come here, to pay their salaries, to give it to [non-governmental organizations].”
Public anger has been rising in Afghanistan since the White House announced its move last week, the AP reported. Over the weekend, demonstrators marched in Kabul demanding the funds’ return and reparations for the tens of thousands killed during the two-decade war in the country.
The Taliban, who have repeatedly claimed the assets, earlier branded Biden’s decision as “theft” and “the lowest level of human and moral depravity.”