U.S. Judge Rejects Biden Plan To Direct Half of Seized Afghan Funds to 9/11 Victims
Aug. 30, 2022 (EIRNS)—U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn argued Aug. 26 that the families of 9/11 victims cannot sue to claim billions of dollars of Afghan funds frozen by the United States. Of the $7 billion in seized funds held at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, President Biden said he would direct half for aid to Afghanistan and the other half to 9/11 families and others who have won legal judgments against the Taliban.
But Judge Netburn argued that the $3.5 billion could not be used in this way, for three reasons. First, Da Afghanistan Bank “is the central bank of a foreign state. This means it is entitled to immunity from jurisdiction and its property is entitled to immunity from execution.
“Second, even if there was jurisdiction, the court is constitutionally restrained” from authorizing use of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act to take the funds. “Only the President may recognize the government of a foreign sovereign nation. Courts may not do so directly or by implication,” she argued. “Authorizing the parties to satisfy the Taliban’s judgments with Afghanistan’s central bank funds unavoidably acknowledges the Taliban as the Afghan government.”
Netburn’s analysis may not necessarily carry the day—her view is not the final ruling—but it has drawn support from a steering committee member of the September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. “As the daughter of a 9/11 victim,” writes Leila Murphy, “it makes me sick to think that Afghan victims of atrocity are being deprived of necessary resources during a time of great need. I am relieved that the judge has taken a step toward the only legally and morally correct approach—making the entire $7 billion available to Afghans to deal with the economic crisis we helped cause.”