A group of family members of 9/11 victims has sent a letter to President Biden urging him to return the $7 billion in frozen Afghan reserves held by the US Federal Reserve to the Afghan people.
Earlier this year, President Biden signed an executive order that would make $3.5 billion of the Afghan funds available to 9/11 families. But in the letter that was sent Tuesday, 77 family members of 9/11 victims said receiving that money would be “morally wrong.”
The letter reads: “Any use of the $7 billion to pay off 9/11 family member judgments is legally suspect and morally wrong. We call on you to modify your Executive Order and affirm that the Afghanistan central bank funds belong to the Afghan people and the Afghan people alone.”
US officials said this week that the Biden administration has decided not to return any of the $7 billion to Afghanistan and suspended talks with the Taliban on the issue. One year since the Taliban’s takeover of the country, Afghanistan is facing a dire humanitarian crisis, with millions of Afghans facing starvation.
The letter says that a small number of 9/11 families sought the Afghan funds to pay off a debt from a default judgment they won against the Taliban years ago. But the 9/11 families that signed the letter argue that the money does not belong to the Taliban. “This money comes from Afghanistan’s central bank, and as such, it belongs to the Afghan people,” they said.
The letter’s signatories said that they have joined other lawsuits and do seek a “measure of justice.” But they add that “no 9/11 family member joined these lawsuits to take money away from starving Afghans.”
“We ask you to use your executive power to modify your recent order and commit to the only legally and morally correct approach – affirming that all $7 billion of the Afghan central bank funds being kept in New York belong to the Afghan people,” the letter concludes.