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A U.S. judge said that the victims of Sept. 11 don't have the right to take Afghan central bank assets

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English -  Friday, a U.S. judge said that victims of the 9/11 attacks shouldn't be able to take billions of dol...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English -  Friday, a U.S. judge said that victims of the 9/11 attacks shouldn't be able to take billions of dollars worth of assets from Afghanistan's central bank to pay off court judgments they won against the Taliban.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in Manhattan said that the law didn't apply to Da Afghanistan Bank and that letting the seizures go through would be the same as recognising the Islamist militant group as the Afghan government, which only the U.S. president can do.

"The people who were hurt by the Taliban have been fighting for years for justice, accountability, and money. They deserve nothing less, "Netburn typed. "But the law limits how much compensation the court can give, and because of those limits, the DAB can't use its assets."

U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan, who is also in charge of the case, will look at Netburn's suggestion and decide whether or not to follow it.

The decision is a loss for four groups of creditors who sued different people, including al-Qaeda, who they said were responsible for the September 11 attacks and got default judgments when the people they sued didn't show up in court.

At the time of the attacks, al-Qaeda was able to work in Afghanistan because the Taliban were in charge.

The United States got rid of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in late 2001, but when U.S. and other Western forces left the country a year ago, the Taliban came back to power.

When asked for comments, the creditor groups' lawyers did not respond right away.

The groups have been trying to get some of the $7 billion frozen at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York that belongs to the Afghan central bank.

In a February executive order, U.S. President Joe Biden said that $3.5 billion of that amount should be set aside "for the benefit of the Afghan people." The rest of the money should be taken to court by the victims.

At the time, the U.S. government didn't say whether or not the creditor groups had the right to get their money back under the Terrorist Risk Insurance Act of 2002.

It told Netburn and Daniels that exceptions to sovereign immunity should be viewed narrowly, citing the risk of interfering with the president's ability to handle foreign relations and the possibility of attacks on American property overseas.

About $2 billion of Afghanistan's savings are held by other countries.

Shawn Van Diver, who runs an organisation called #AfghanEvac that helps Afghans get out of danger and find new homes, said he hoped the frozen funds could be used to help the struggling Afghan economy without giving money to the Taliban.

He said, "The judge did the right thing here." 

On September 11, 2001, planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in northern Virginia, and a field in Pennsylvania, killing almost 3,000 people.

Sanctions from the U.S. make it illegal to do business with the Taliban financially, but they do not stop people from helping the Afghan people in other ways.

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