President Joe Biden on Friday signed an executive order that begins the process to distribute $7 billion in Afghan funds to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and to the Afghan people themselves in the form of humanitarian aid.
That $7 billion went to the central bank of the New York Federal Reserve and other financial institutions before the Taliban took Kabul and seized control of Afghanistan, a White House official said during a telephone press conference.
Biden’s executive order, made public by the White House, begins a long process that could take months to allocate half of the funds—$3.5 billion—to 9/11 victims and the other half to the people of Afghanistan who are suffering a severe humanitarian crisis.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that this is a complex process that will take time and emphasized that the money will not be distributed immediately.
Specifically, he explained that the $3.5 billion for 9/11 victims will be placed in a trust fund in the United States and will be used for litigation that these victims initiated years ago in U.S. courts to hold the Taliban accountable for the loss of their loved ones in the attacks.
The other $3.5 billion will also be placed in a trust fund and Washington will work with its allies to decide how the money is delivered to the Afghan people, the official said.
The United Nations and several humanitarian organizations have been pressing governments around the world, especially the United States, for months to unblock the Afghan funds they froze after the Taliban seized power in August last year.
Before the Taliban seized power, the Afghan central bank had deposited $9 billion abroad.
Of that $9 billion, $7 billion is in the U.S. and the rest is in other countries, such as Switzerland, Germany and the United Arab Emirates, the official said.
American troops left Afghanistan on August 30 (August 31 in the Central Asian country) and put an end to a 20-year war, the longest in the history of the United States.
That war began in October 2001 with the mission of hunting down the then leader of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, the “mastermind” of the September 11 attacks of that year, and punishing the Taliban who had given him refuge.