9/11 Families Worry Only a Fraction Will See The $3.5B In Afghan Funds

The Biden administration's plan to freeze Afghan funds and split the pot between an Afghan humanitarian relief trust and the relatives of 9/11 victims has drawn the ire of many, including the 9/11 victim family members who are concerned over how the dollars would be divided.

"We firmly support the distribution of a large portion of these frozen assets to help mitigate the horrific humanitarian crisis and as aid to those suffering in Afghanistan today," Bruce Eagleson said in a statement that was addressed a being "on behalf of many in the 9/11 community." "However, for those funds intended for the 9/11 families, leaving this matter to a court, as this action by the Administration would do, will force the families of those killed on 9/11 to fight amongst each other. That is wrong, unfair and unjust."

An executive order put out by the White House on Friday stated that courts overseeing lawsuits brought forth by the families of 9/11 victims against the perpetrators of the attack should have the opportunity to access at least half of the frozen funds which could be paid as an award to the victims that successfully sue.

The 47 plaintiffs in a case titled Havlish v. Bin-Laden would be the first to have access to these funds. As it stands, lawyers have determined that, while different 9/11 groups have made claims, the Havlish group has an enforceable judgment against the Taliban because they were the only group that has yet to receive a damages award, according to the New York Times.

"News reports today indicating that billions of dollars of Afghan funds currently frozen by the U.S. government may soon be directed to only a small percentage of 9/11 families—the family members of only 47 of the victims murdered that day—are extremely troubling, if accurate," Eagleson, son of 9/11 victim Bruce Eagleson, wrote in the statement.

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The Biden administration's plan to freeze Afghan funds and split the pot between an Afghan humanitarian relief trust and the relatives of 9/11 victims has drawn the ire of many. In this picture taken on October 1, 2020, women wait with their children at a government-run maternity clinic in a rural area of Dand district in Kandahar province. The International Rescue Committee writes that over 24 million people are in need of aid. Photo by ELISE BLANCHARD/AFP via Getty Images

"The best, most equitable plan would be for the Administration to order these $3.5 billion frozen Afghan funds directly into the existing fund established for such distribution purposes under The Justice for United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act," he stated.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed during the September 11 attacks, affecting thousands of families across the country. To provide compensation for the families who lost a loved one and those who survived the attacks but suffered mental and physical injuries, the Department of Justice created the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund which was established under the act referenced by Eagleson.

Despite Eagleson stating that many in the 9/11 community support the distribution of the frozen funds as a form of compensation, others have disagreed with that stance, including Valerie Lucznikowska, who lost her nephew, Adam Arias, in the attack.

Lucznikowska told Newsweek she witnessed her family suffer following her nephew's death, but she said that the Afghans have suffered as well, and she believes they would benefit more from the funds. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns that economic free fall in the country, which has been exasperated following the Taliban takeover, has placed 9 million people at the brink of famine. The IRC writes that over 24 million people are in need of aid and that by 2022, the country could see 97 percent of its population fall into poverty.

"The money should go to the people of Afghanistan who have suffered just cumulatively far more than we have," she told Newsweek. "We invaded Afghanistan, causing great suffering and death to the Afghans. Our purported aim was to find and eliminate enemies of the United States. The civilian population of Afghanistan was never an enemy, but the people have suffered greatly because of our invasion. They deserve any restitution possible."

9/11 South Tower WTC terrorism
The Biden administration's plan to freeze Afghan funds and split the pot between an Afghan humanitarian relief trust and the relatives of 9/11 victims worries some. On September 11, 2001, a hijacked United Airlines flight 175 flew into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. CNN via Getty Images