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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Hamid Karzai asks Biden to rethink decision on Afghanistan’s assets

'How can US get compensation from country that is victim of terrorism?' asks former Afghan president

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday urged US President Joe Biden to reconsider his decision to allocate $3.5 billion of Afghanistan’s frozen $7 billion for pending legal proceedings and 9/11 compensation claims.

“How can the US get compensation from a country that has been a victim of terrorism?” Karzai told a press conference in the capital Kabul, citing the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda founder accused of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks who was killed by US forces in an operation in northern Pakistan.

Barack Obama was US president at the time, and Biden his vice president.

Bin Laden was brought to Afghanistan not by Afghans, but by foreigners, said Karzai, adding that Afghans are also victims of terrorism.

Karzai stressed that the people of Afghanistan should not pay the price for bin Laden’s terrorist activities, asking the US president to review his executive order and return $7 billion to Afghanistan’s central bank.

Read more: Pakistan urges UN to unfreeze Afghan assets amid economic collapse

“How can they blame a poor nation and confiscate their money?” he asked, referring in part to the country’s dire financial straits since last August’s takeover by the interim Taliban administration.

Biden’s decision

On Friday, Biden signed an order to divide the frozen funds between 9/11 victims and humanitarian aid in Afghanistan.

Those funds have been sitting in the Federal Reserve Bank since the Taliban took over the Afghan government last August.

The Taliban claims ownership of the funds, but the US does not recognize them as Afghanistan’s legitimate government. Money consists of assets such as currency, bonds, and gold.

Read more: Biden allocates half of Afghan assets for 9/11 victims

The acting Taliban officials have repeatedly demanded the release of the funds held in New York, but under international sanctions, any financial transaction with the group is illegal.

On Saturday, Afghanistan’s central bank protested the US move, saying: “The real owners of these reserves are the people of Afghanistan. These reserves were not and are not the property of governments, parties, or groups and are never used as per their demand or decisions.”

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk