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Afghanistan’s Central Bank blasts US plan to seize frozen assets as 'injustice' to Afghans

People hold a banner before marching on the street in Kabul during a protest at US refusal to release Afghan assets, Dec. 21, 2021.

Afghanistan's Central Bank has condemned a recent decision by the United States to seize billions of dollars of frozen Afghan funds to pay the claimants of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The White House announced on Friday that the US Treasury plans to block half of the $7-billion Afghan funds frozen in the US banks to distribute among the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

Washington also claimed that the other half would be allocated for humanitarian aid.

Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) censured the Joe Biden administration’s plan, saying the funds had been invested in the United States in line with international practices and belonged to the people of Afghanistan.

"DAB considers the latest decision of USA on blocking FX (foreign exchange) reserves and allocating them to irrelevant purposes, injustice to the people of Afghanistan," the central bank said in a statement.

"DAB will never accept if the FX reserves of Afghanistan is paid under the name of compensation or humanitarian assistance to others and wants the reversal of the decision and release of all FX reserves of Afghanistan," it added.

The Biden administration has frozen the assets belonging to the Afghan Central Bank since the withdrawal of its occupation forces from the country in August 2021. Many of the US allies and Western governments have also largely suspended their financial assistance to Afghanistan since the US troop withdrawal and the Taliban takeover.

The Taliban government in Afghanistan has condemned the US’s move, with Suhail Shaheen, the designated Afghan representative to the United Nations (UN), calling for the entire amount to be unfrozen and kept under the control of the Afghan Central Bank.

Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Taliban political office in Doha, criticized Washington for "stealing" the property of the Afghan people and said the theft of the frozen assets of Afghans shows that the United States has degraded to the lowest level in human nature and morality.

Afghans condemn US plan to fund 9/11 victims with their assets

Residents in the Afghan capital of Kabul also voiced their firm objection against the Biden administration’s decision to seize the frozen assets of their war-ravaged country.

"As an Afghan, let me tell you how this is wrong; the Americans unfroze the assets to compensate the victims in 9/11, and they are doing it wrong. They should return the money to the Afghan people, because the two things (Afghan people and 9/11) have nothing to do with each other," said Hossein Meraj, a shopkeeper.

Faiz Mohammad, a resident in Kabul, also said, "First, I don't think the US has the right to use Afghanistan's money to compensate 9/11 victims. The US had no reason when it attacked us, but a lot of people died in the past 20 years. So it's the US that should compensate us, and they should not spend our money.”

Almost five months after the US-led international coalition hastily abandoned the South Asian country, millions of Afghans are on the brink of starvation, with no food and no money.

The Taliban’s return to power came as the US was in the middle of a chaotic troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The group announced the formation of a caretaker government on September 7, but their efforts to stabilize the situation have so far been undermined by international sanctions, as banks are running out of cash and civil servants are going unpaid.

Aid agencies and the UN have estimated that more than half of Afghanistan’s 38 million population is expected to face hunger this winter.

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