The United States has sent nearly $125 million in aid to Afghanistan this year, making Washington the country’s largest benefactor for the second straight year.

In 2001 alone, Kabul has received $124.2 million from the United States – much of it in food aid. The last installment came in May at the urging of Secretary of State Colin Powell.

At that time, the United States gave $43 million in “humanitarian assistance” to Kabul because Afghanistan was “on the verge of a widespread famine,” Powell said.

“If the international community does not take immediate action, countless deaths and terrible tragedy are certain to follow,” Powell said.

The package included $28 million worth of wheat from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, $5 million in food commodities and $10 million in “livelihood and food security” programs, both from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The United Nations distributed the aid in May, bypassing the country’s ruling Taliban militia.

However, after last Tuesday’s terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Washington’s attitude toward the Taliban militia government of Afghanistan is likely to change.

On Thursday, Powell accused Saudi billionaire Osama bin Laden of masterminding those attacks. And, since bin Laden is said to be hiding out in Afghanistan with the blessing of the ruling Taliban government, reports have said the Bush administration is now considering military strikes against Kabul.

The U.N. Security Council issued sanctions against Afghanistan for harboring bin Laden following his suspected involvement in the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998.

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