9/11 Families Say: Afghan Central Bank Funds Belong to Afghans

President Biden: We all lost loved ones on September 11th and call upon you
to return the Afghan Central Bank funds to the Afghan people.
This is their money, not ours.

Dear President Biden,

As family members of 9/11 victims, we call on you to affirm that the Afghanistan central bank funds currently being kept in New York belong to the Afghan people. 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.

A lawsuit by a small group of 9/11 family members has sought to seize the assets to pay off the debt from a default judgment that they won against the Taliban years ago. Their argument is that, when the Taliban took control over the Afghan government, the Taliban presumptively gained control of the frozen assets as well, freeing the funds for the plaintiffs to pursue.

These suits, and the legal claims involved, are complex. But these arguments are founded on a false premise. This money does not belong to the Taliban. This money comes from Afghanistan’s central bank, and as such, it belongs to the Afghan people. Victims of terrorism, including 9/11 victims, are entitled to their day in court. But they are not entitled to money that lawfully belongs to the Afghan people.

Ninety-five percent of Afghans are impoverished, and nearly nine million are at risk of starvation. Affirming that these funds belong to the Afghan people will not solve Afghanistan’s problems; figuring out how to transfer the money directly to the Afghan people is a formidable task. But the point is: this money is theirs, not ours. Simply put, this money belongs to the Afghan people, not 9/11 family members – and they need it more.

9/11 families – including some of the undersigned – joined various lawsuits years ago, seeking a measure of justice for their loss. But 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.


*alphabetical list of signers*

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