House Republicans investigate Afghanistan aid due to hostage payment concern

by mcardinal

Lauren Moye, FISM NEWS


House Republicans voiced concerns on Thursday that recently pledged aid to Afghanistan may effectively be a ransom payment for the lives of American citizens who still remain in the country. 

These representatives wrote in a letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken:

We have serious concerns about negotiations with the Taliban leading to the payment of ransom – whether marketed as humanitarian assistance or sanctions relief – which will give the Taliban resources that could be used to attack the United States or our allies.

Lawmakers requested that Blinken reveal if easing sanctions had any connection to securing safe passage for American citizens. They also asked if the Taliban had requested relief and sought any documents that showed financial assistance that could be funneled to the Taliban. Twenty-one members of the caucus signed the letter.

The President Joe Biden announced on Sept. 13 that $64 million in humanitarian aid would be given for the relief of Afghanistan citizens, which many lawmakers immediately voiced concern over.

Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) critiqued the promised aid by stating, “They’re going to backchannel humanitarian aid through nonprofits. As we all know, that will end up right in the hands of the Taliban. They’re going to allow them access to their foreign currency reserves to the tune of billions, that are around the world.”

Rand Paul (R-KY) also voiced criticism:

The Taliban has a history of taking this throughout their governance, they would take the money. This was a big complaint we had when they were in power the last time.

Biden’s administration has claimed that the promised humanitarian aid will be distributed by organizations that are independent of Taliban control. Blinken affirmed this when he said, “The United States will also work with the international community to help ensure that the Taliban follow through on its commitments and advance unhindered humanitarian access, freedom of movement for aid workers of all genders, safety and security of humanitarian staff, and safe passage for all those who wish to leave Afghanistan.”

However, concern remains that any aid will place the lives of American citizens who remain in Afghanistan in danger. Their very presence could be used as leverage by the Taliban government when negotiating future deals.

In the letter addressed to Blinken, lawmakers wrote, “The payment of ransom to terrorists, likely including the September 13 announcement of $64 million dollars in humanitarian aid to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan provided without guardrails, will only further place Americans in harm’s way by incentivizing the Taliban, and other terrorist groups, to kidnap more Americans.”