Taliban warns US against ‘theft’ of assets

Afghan leaders threaten to ‘reconsider’ their policy toward Washington

The Taliban has warned US President Joe Biden that if he does not release the $7 billion in Afghan funds his administration “unfroze” last week, the Islamic fundamentalist group will have no choice but to “reconsider” its policy toward Washington.

Any “misappropriation” of the $7 billion belonging to Afghanistan’s central bank would be “a clear violation of the agreement reached with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” Taliban deputy spokesman Inamullah Samangani told Biden in a statement on Monday.

“If the United States does not deviate from its position and continues its provocative actions, the Islamic Emirate will also be forced to reconsider its policy towards the country,” the spokesman continued, condemning the “theft” by the US and adding that “the 9/11 attacks had nothing to do with Afghanistan.”

In an executive order last week, Biden removed the freeze on $7 billion but designated half to address the “widespread humanitarian crisis” the US left behind in Afghanistan in the wake of 20 years of occupation, while promising the other $3.5 billion to compensate the American victims of Taliban terrorism – including, he said, relatives of those who died on September 11, 2001 – who had previously attempted to sue terror group al-Qaeda to no avail.

While the Bush administration invaded Afghanistan shortly after the 9/11 attacks, it was not because of any compelling evidence the Taliban had been responsible for the acts of terror attributed to al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden. The US alleged bin Laden was hiding out in Afghanistan at the time of the hijackings, and the Taliban agreed to turn him over to the Americans if he could be guaranteed a fair trial – a stipulation then-president George W. Bush infamously refused to honor, declaring he did not “negotiate with terrorists.”

Rather than extracting bin Laden and putting him on trial for the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, the US invaded Afghanistan. US and NATO troops proceeded to stay there for the next two decades, on a failed nation-building mission that collapsed just days after the Biden administration finally brought its soldiers home in August. The Taliban had been steadily gaining strength through the last few years of the US occupation, and the Afghan army largely opted to turn and flee rather than face them without the assistance of the Americans.

“For the United States to avoid international reproach and not to damage its relations with the Afghan people, it must relinquish its decision” to seize Kabul’s billions, the Taliban’s statement concluded. “Release the wealth of Afghans unconditionally.”

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