A case with global significance has been fought by veterans of the Afghan war – families of the 11 Americans killed in the 9/11 attacks – who are seeking more than $2bn in funds frozen by the US Congress in Pakistan.
Seventeen of the families are plaintiffs in a suit against Pakistan and the military relationship between that country and the Taliban: both are named as defendants.
Lawyers are now battling the Pentagon to unlock the money – they are citing seven years of wartime and financial penalties. The money was frozen in the 2007 – 2008 period.
In Kabul’s Supreme Court, with Senator Tim Kaine and Rep Trey Gowdy watching on Thursday morning, the families argued there is no legal basis for the financial restrictions and they should be rescinded.
The families of the victims of 9/11, who were not the only plaintiffs in the case, have been funded by the Wolf Foundation, founded by congressman Darrell Issa. He is a member of the Afghanistan Study Group, which studied Afghanistan after the 2001 invasion. Issa appeared on the campaign trail alongside Donald Trump in 2016, which informed his desire to get rid of Barack Obama’s policy of relying on special operations forces to hunt down Taliban leadership.
In an interview with the BBC earlier this week, Issa said Congress hasn’t done enough to target the Taliban, despite passing the last 12 annual Defense bills with anti-Taliban language.
In a statement for the case – and issued on the official website of the Wolf Foundation – Issa quoted Obama on the Taliban policy:
“The war in Afghanistan is lost without a political solution. Fighting and killing are not options, if we do not change course.”
The Wolf Foundation has been running charitable programmes in Afghanistan for 30 years. It’s been funding the cases in the Supreme Court since February.
Issa accused the Taliban of “just using this lawsuit as a way to deflect the attention away from [their] involvement in the September 11 attacks.”
The law firm representing the Taliban – Polsinelli, PLLC – has specifically said the case is “particularly designed for purposes of spurious fundraising and extortion.”
“The plaintiffs haven’t provided any evidence [to support] their claim that the Government of Pakistan and/or the Taliban received money that ended up in the terrorists’ coffers,” Polsinelli has said.
Jail sentences handed down to former Taliban leaders were “literally a slap on the wrist,” the firm says.
Photo credit: Photographer @migillazn.