Judge in US rule 9/11 victims cannot seize Afghan central bank funds

The families of victims of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks cannot seize $3.5 billion in funds belonging to Afghanistan’s central bank, a New York federal judge ruled Tuesday.

The assets, held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, were frozen on August 15, 2021 — the day the Taliban entered Kabul and toppled the US-backed Afghan government.

US President Joe Biden later said the money could be made available to the families of 9/11 victims.

A group of families — who years earlier sued the Taliban for their losses and won — has since moved to seize the funds to pay off the judgement debt.

But Judge George Daniels of the Southern District of New York said Tuesday that the federal courts lack the jurisdiction to seize the funds from Afghanistan’s central bank.

“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,” Daniels explained in a 30-page opinion.

“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.”

Daniels also said he was “constitutionally restrained” from awarding the assets to the families because it would effectively mean recognizing the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

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