President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Friday aimed at splitting billions in frozen Afghan funds between humanitarian aid and families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks, The New York Times reports.
Biden’s executive order invoked emergency powers to freeze all $7 billion in assets that the Afghan central bank held in New York. The administration said it would ask a judge to split the money, with $3.5 billion going to a trust fund for humanitarian relief for afghans and the other half to victims’ families.
The money was seized in August after the Taliban took over Afghanistan.
The Taliban claimed a right to the money but a group of 9/11 victims’ families sought to seize it to pay off debt from lawsuits seeking to hold the Taliban responsible for the attacks.
The move comes as Afghanistan faces a humanitarian disaster caused by the collapse of the country’s economy under Taliban rule.
There have been extensive reports of mass starvation and new waves of refugees fleeing their towns.
Despite a push to deliver aid to the Afghan people, western countries are worried that the money will flow to the Taliban.
United States law also prohibits financial transactions with terrorist organizations.
In September, 150 relatives of 9/11 victims who won default judgements from lawsuits againt the Taliban and Al-Qaeda moved to seize the money the Afghan government held at the Federal Reserve of New York.
The Biden administration decided not to object to the move but instead wants to give families half of the funds.
The administration plans to create a trust fund for aid that is intended to keep it out of the hands of the Taliban.
Not all families of 9/11 victims agree that the money should be split.
“I can’t think of a worse betrayal of the people of Afghanistan than to freeze their assets and give it to 9/11 families,” Barry Admundson of the group September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, told the Times. “While 9/11 families are seeking justice for their loss through these suits, I fear that the end result of seizing this money will be to cause further harm to innocent Afghans who have already suffered greatly.”