White House to Decide Fate of Frozen Afghan Funds

The Biden administration is currently considering how some $7 billion in Afghan government funds, frozen at the Federal Reserve in September 2021 by the families of 9/11 victims, will be distributed, according to reports in the Hill, the NY Times, and other publications.

The Taliban is claiming the assets as its own, and has won the support of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which sent a letter to the President and to senior Treasury Department officials on December 20, 2021, urging them to release the frozen assets to the Taliban government to avert “imminent mass starvation and the current economic collapse of Afghanistan.”

At the Jan. 28, 2022 hearing, Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn gave the Justice Department until Feb. 11 to file its recommendations for how to dispose of the funds, agreeing to the DoJ claim it needed more time to address

the “many complex and important issues”┬áincluding Sept. 11 victims’ claims, diplomacy, and the “still evolving” situation in Afghanistan,” Reuters reported.

The DoJ added that

the matters were being fully discussed and were “receiving urgent attention attention at the highest levels of government.”

The Havlish clients are alone among the 9/11 victims’ families to have won a damages award against the Taliban, although attorneys for multiple groups of 9/11 plaintiffs have written the court to intervene in the proceedings.

The Aston Plaintiffs concede they do not have a final, enforceable judgment… Simply stated, the Ashton Plaintiffs are not parties to this enforcement proceeding and have no standing to be heard,” Havlish attorney Timothy B. Fleming wrote the court.

According to an earlier report in the NY Times,

A New York law suggests that even if the other plaintiffs obtain damages judgments and file claims too, the Havlish plaintiffs can argue that because they filed theirs first, they are entitled be paid off first. Their judgment debt is roughly equal to all the assets in the account.