Afghan funds remain ‘frozen’ despite concerns they will be redirected to terrorism

In the midst of Afghanistan’s political and economic turmoil, the US has stated that it will not release billions of dollars in Afghan government assets held by the country’s central bank. Concerned that the funds would fall into the hands of terrorists in the aftermath of the death of Al Qaeda’s leader, who was hiding in the Afghan capital, Tom West, the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan, stated, ‘We do not see recapitalization of the Afghan central bank as a near-term option,’ CNN reported. The Taliban’s sheltering of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri reinforces our deep concerns about the diversion of funds to terrorist groups,’ he added.

According to CNN, the decision not to release the Afghan funds came nearly six months after US President Joe Biden signed an executive order allowing the $7 billion in frozen assets from Afghanistan’s central bank to be distributed within the country and possibly fund legal actions brought by families of September 11 terrorist attack victims. Notably, after Afghanistan’s democratically elected government collapsed last year and the Taliban seized power, the US administration blocked the funds.

US will not release Afghan funds:
Furthermore, a National Security Council spokesperson stated that ‘there has been no change’ in initiatives to get the funds to the Afghan people, despite the fact that the mechanism for releasing the funds is being developed. The spokesperson did, however, point out that Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul has a direct impact on how the Biden administration approaches the Taliban.

The spokesperson also stated that, due to Afghanistan’s ongoing economic and humanitarian crisis, they have been collaborating with their international counterparts to provide assistance ‘creation of an international trust fund with strict safeguards to allow the use of Afghan reserves for the benefit of the Afghan people We’ve made significant progress, and our current focus is on assisting with the establishment of this fund… That reality will continue to inform our approach to the future of these assets ‘, CNN quoted the spokesperson as saying.

Aside from that, in July, Afghanistan’s interim interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, urged US President Biden to immediately unblock the Afghan central bank’s $7 billion in assets. During a speech on July 16, Haqqani asked, ‘Did they achieve anything over the last 20 years?’  According to a Tolo News report, the self-appointed Talibani administrative official told Afghans in the southern province of Khost that a purportedly ‘inclusive government’ would take place in his country now that ‘the western ideology’ had been eradicated from Afghan soil.


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