US judge: Sept. 11 victims not allowed to seize Afghan central bank assets

Photo: Da Afghanistan Bank

Victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks will not be allowed to seize billions of dollars of assets belonging to Afghanistan’s central bank to satisfy court judgments they obtained against the Taliban, a US judge recommended on Friday.

US Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in Manhattan said Da Afghanistan Bank was immune from jurisdiction, and that allowing the seizures would effectively acknowledge the Islamist militant group as the Afghan government, something only the US president can do, according to Reuters report.

“The Taliban’s victims have fought for years for justice, accountability, and compensation. They are entitled to no less,” Netburn wrote in a letter. “But the law limits what compensation the court may authorize and those limits put the DAB’s assets beyond its authority.”

According to Reuters report, Netburn’s recommendation will be reviewed by US District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan, who also oversees the litigation and can decide whether to accept her recommendation.

Reuters report says that the decision is a defeat for four groups of creditors that sued a variety of defendants, including al-Qaeda, they held responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, and obtained default judgments after the defendants failed to show up in court.

At the time of the attacks, the Taliban allowed al-Qaeda to operate inside Afghanistan.

The Taliban and al-Qaeda were ousted from Afghanistan in late 2001, but the Taliban returned to power last year when American and coalition forces left the country.

Naseer Ahmad Faiq, Chargé d’Affaires of Afghanistan permanent mission to the UN, in a tweet appreciated the decision on behalf of the People of Afghanistan and thanked all who supported and defended the case.