A group of military veterans injured in terrorist attacks says President Joe Biden is ignoring the sacrifices made by the U.S. military and thousands of other terrorism victims by routing billions of dollars in seized Afghan funds to insurance companies and a small group of terror victims represented by a former Biden White House lawyer, according to a letter sent this week to foreign policy leaders in Congress.
The claims are the latest in a feud over $3.5 billion in assets that the United States confiscated from the Afghan Central Bank during the military withdrawal last year. The Biden administration ordered that the funds be used to settle legal judgments against the Taliban brought by September 11 victims and insurance companies. But other U.S. terrorism victims say the funds should go to a federal trust that was created in 2015 to compensate all survivors.
Biden's executive order "effectively handed over $3.5 billion in previously frozen Afghan funds to a federal judge in New York to distribute to a small group of victims and insurance companies who fortuitously had obtained judgments against the Taliban, instead of directing the money into the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund (USVSST Fund) for all victims to share," the military veterans wrote in a letter to the leadership of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees.
That small group of victims with court judgments against the Taliban is represented by Lee Wolosky, who served as Biden's White House counsel on Afghanistan before he left the administration in January, according to the Wall Street Journal. The group's attorneys are set to claim up to one-third of the settlement.
"This decision ignores the sacrifices made by the U.S. military serving our country abroad and ignores the fundamental premise under which the USVSST was established," says the letter. "The USVSST was created by Congress to handle the fair and equitable distribution of funds for the benefit of all U.S. terrorism victims, rather than a select group."
The USVSST fund was created in 2015 to address the difficulty that U.S. victims have faced in collecting financial judgments against terrorist groups and state sponsors of terror. The trust is largely funded through the Treasury Department's enforcement of terror-related sanctions, and the money is distributed equally to all designated victims of terrorism.
The letter, signed by over 400 veterans and military families impacted by terrorist attacks, called on lawmakers "to reverse [the Biden administration's] decision and direct that the Afghan Funds be distributed through the USVSST Fund instead."