U.S. Senators Urge Treasury to Withhold $9 Billion in Assets from ‘Oppressive Taliban Regime’

Taliban fighters patrol a street in Kabul on August 29, 2021, as suicide bomb threats hung over the final phase of the US military's airlift operation from Kabul, with President Joe Biden warning another attack was highly likely before the evacuations end. (Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP) (Photo by …
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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) wrote to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Monday urging her to do everything in her power to keep billions in international funding meant for Afghanistan from falling into the hands of the “oppressive Taliban regime.”

The senators wrote:

The Taliban are sponsors of terrorism who maintain close ties with Al-Qaeda, and therefore they cannot be trusted to distribute money to the Afghan people who desperately need it, and will instead use any and all funds to actively advance priorities hostile to U.S. interests.

The lawmakers said Yellen should intervene at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to ensure the Taliban does not receive $450 million in funding allocated for Afghanistan, which has already been temporarily blocked. Yellen initially moved to block IMF aid to the Taliban after a group of GOP lawmakers sent her a letter on August 17.

Reports also surfaced of August 17 that the Biden Administration had frozen the Afghan government’s access to its U.S.-based reserve funds “after it became clear that the Taliban would take control of Kabul.”

Ajmal Ahmady, Da Afghanistan Bank ‘s (DAB) former acting governor who recently fled the country, confirmed publicly that DAB reserves were around $9 billion in August. Those assets were reportedly held outside the country.

“Mr. Ahmady noted that the decision by the U.S., and other nations to block reserve funds has cut off the Taliban’s access to nearly 99.9 percent of its reserves. This was a vital first step that should not be reversed under any circumstance,” Rubio and Portman said.

The senators lastly urged the Treasury to work with allies and the United Nations, to “systemically review all foreign source of funding” at the Afghan government’s disposal that the Taliban may attempt to access, and to “freeze any funds” that would go directly to the Taliban.

“We can and should work to establish alternative means of supporting the Afghan people, but we cannot allow any resources to be used to bolster an oppressive Taliban regime,” they concluded.

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