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Karzai Calls U.S. Move To Split Frozen Assets An 'Atrocity Against Afghan People'

A man holds a banner during a demonstration in Kabul demanding the release of frozen Afghan funds. (file photo)

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called on U.S. President Joe Biden to reverse his decision to split $7 billion of frozen Afghan funds between victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and humanitarian aid.

Karzai, speaking at a packed news conference in Kabul, said the frozen funds should be used to ensure the stability of the Afghan currency and the country's financial system.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai

Afghanistan has approximately $9 billion in assets, including $7 billion in the United States. The remaining funds are mostly held in Germany, the United Arab Emirates, and Switzerland. The funds were frozen after the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in August.

Under an executive order signed by Biden on February 11, half of the $7 billion will be placed in a humanitarian aid trust fund for distribution through groups providing relief to Afghans.

The other half will stay in the United States and be used to fund ongoing litigation by U.S. victims of terrorism, including for claims against the Taliban by the families of victims of the September 11 attacks.

“The Afghan people are as much victims as those families who lost their loved ones,” Karzai said. "Withholding money or seizing money from the people of unjust and unfair and an atrocity against the Afghan people."

Karzai called on the American people to acknowledge the suffering of the Afghan people.

He said the Afghan people were paying the price even though Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, spent time in Afghanistan but later returned to Pakistan, where he was eventually killed in a U.S. raid in 2011.

No Afghans were among the terrorists involved in the September 11 attacks.

On February 12, Afghanistan’s Central Bank called for the reversal of the decision and the release of the funds, saying that they are not the property of governments, parties, or groups.

With reporting by AP and dpa
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