Afghanistan did not attack the United States on September 11, 2001, and Saudi Arabia which was allegedly involved in the attacks has never been sanctioned for this and remains a close US ally, according to an American academic and commentator.
Daniel Kovalik, an academic at the University of Pittsburgh, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Friday.
A US judge last week ruled that the victims’ families should not be allowed to seize billions of dollars of Afghanistan’s central bank assets to satisfy court judgments against the Taliban.
US Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in Manhattan stated that Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) was immune from jurisdiction and that allowing the seizures would effectively endorse the militant group as the Afghan government, a call that can only be made by the US president, local news outlets reported.
“The Taliban’s victims have fought for years for justice, accountability and compensation. They are entitled to no less,” Netburn wrote. “But the law limits what compensation the court may authorize, and those limits put the DAB’s assets beyond its authority.”
Netburn’s recommendation is to be reviewed by US District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan, who also oversees the litigation and can overturn her recommendation.
The ruling marks a defeat for four groups of creditors that waged legal action against a variety of defendants, including the al-Qaeda terrorist group that they hold responsible for the September 11 attacks, and obtained default judgments after the alleged defendants failed to show up in court.
Kovalik said, “The recommendation of the judge is eminently reasonable. Indeed, a number of families of the 9/11 victims have said they don’t want the money; that it should go to the Afghan people.”
“Afghanistan did not attack the US on 9/11. According to the 9/11 Commission, the country with the closest connection to the 9/11 attacks was Saudi Arabia. And yet, Saudi Arabia has never been sanctioned for this and remains a close US ally,” he stated.
“While, apparently, Osama bin Laden was hiding out in Afghanistan during and after the 9/11 attacks, this does not make Afghanistan responsible for those attacks,” he stated.
“First of all, even the FBI has said that it never had solid evidence that bin Laden was behind the attacks. And, in any case, Afghanistan said that it was willing to turn over bin Laden if the US presented evidence that he was responsible. Of course, the US had no such evidence and so refused. All of this leads to the conclusion that all these assets should be returned to Afghanistan,” he noted.
‘Gorbachev oversaw the dismantling of the USSR’
Elsewhere in his remarks, Kovalik said, “Mikhail Gorbachev has died. Ironically, he died in the year in which the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Soviet Union is being celebrated.”
“This is ironic because Gorbachev oversaw the dismantling of the USSR. While Gorbachev has always been a hero in the West for his role in the demise of the Soviet Union, he has been very unpopular in the former Soviet countries, and especially Russia, for the very same reason,” he stated.
“With the collapse of the USSR, 2.5 to 3 million former Soviet citizens prematurely died and 150 million were thrown into poverty. The former Soviet Union was looted of its industries and resources, and its role as a superpower ended. The West piled on by expanding NATO all the way to Russia’s borders, only humiliating Russia all the more,” he said.
“Gorbachev possesses a large part of the blame for all of this, and he will not be remembered well back home. Indeed, polls show that he is one of the most unpopular Russian leaders of all time,” he noted.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the funeral of Gorbachev, who triggered the destruction of the Soviet Union, due to scheduling issues, his spokesman said on Thursday.
“The farewell ceremony and funeral will take place on September 3 but unfortunately the president’s work schedule will not allow him (to attend),” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Putin has called the Soviet collapse the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.
Peskov said that Putin had paid his last respects to Gorbachev at the hospital where he died on Tuesday, aged 91.
Gorbachev’s funeral ceremony will be held on Saturday in the Moscow Hall of Columns.