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US judge rules against 9/11 attacks victims seizing Afghan central bank assets

A judge in New York has ruled on Tuesday that victims of the 9/11 attacks are not authorised to seize assets belonging to Afghanistan’s central bank, 

According to Reuters, US District Judge, George Daniels, said that he was “constitutionally restrained” from acknowledging the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, meaning the frozen assets don’t belong to the Taliban, but Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB).

The judge ruled that the US courts lacked the power to seize the DAB’s assets. 

“The judgment creditors are entitled to collect on their default judgments and be made whole for the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history, but they cannot do so with the funds of the central bank of Afghanistan,” he said. 

Adding that “The Taliban – not the former Islamic Republic of Afghanistan or the Afghan people – must pay for the Taliban’s liability in the 9/11 attacks.”

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In February 2022, President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing the division of the $7 billion in assets held by the DAB. Half of the funds, amounting to $3.5 billion, will be allocated to provide aid to the people of Afghanistan, while the other half will be subject to legal action by victims of the 9/11 attacks.

One of the lawyers representing the victims told Reuters, “This decision deprives over 10,000 members of the 9/11 community of their right to collect compensation from the Taliban.”

This is the second ruling against the 9/11 attacks victims on seizing DAB assets. In August 2021, a judge rejected the 9/11 attacks victims’ claims on similar grounds.