April 30, 2015:
ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant) has set up an “Islamic State” in eastern Syria and western Iraq and this “Caliphate” seeks to be more Islamic than anyone else and as a result people are starving and dying from lack of medical care and much else. This is not unusual in strife torn areas, even when there is lots of foreign aid available. But ISIL is worse because they will not accept any aid from non-Moslem charities and even those NGO (non-government organizations) charities that pass the religion test are heavily “taxed” and regulated by ISIL officials. As a result much aid does not get to where it is needed and even then much is diverted to ISIL as taxes and fees. This is a trend that has been developing for some time.
For example, back in 2010 foreign aid groups were demanding that the newly formed Somali government (TNG, or Transitional National Government) ensure free movement of aid supplies into areas controlled by Islamic terror group al Shabaab. But the TNG feared that al Shabaab would use the aid trucks to smuggle in weapons and explosives. This has happened elsewhere, as in Gaza. The aid groups also wanted TNG to back off on interfering with bribes paid to al Shabaab to allow passage of food aid. The government saw these bribes as keeping al Shabaab going and this sort of dispute is also quite common.
The aid groups in Somalia also called for an immediate halt to the fighting. This was difficult because the primary aggressor was al Shabaab, which was (and still is) on a Mission from God and not inclined to take advice from foreigners (most of whom are infidels). The TNG and local militias and later peacekeepers were trying to free people from oppressive al Shabaab rule. At the time it was estimated that there were nearly a million Somalis are close to death by starvation in al Shabaab controlled areas. Many al Shabaab members oppose the group's policy to obstructing the free movement of food aid, but for over a year the hardliners remained in control. Since 2010 al Shabaab has been marginalized, but remains a threat.
Al Shabaab, like many terrorist and rebel groups, have long depended on extorting cash from aid groups to keep their gunmen supplied and fighting. Meanwhile, another relatively new practice pioneered by al Shabaab was refusing to allow refugees to leaved and to government controlled areas or across the nearby border into Kenya. Al Shabaab forced starving people to return to their villages. Without starving civilians there would be no aid to plunder and no aid groups to make bribe payments. Al Shabaab supplied some food but not enough. Al Shabaab was also demanding that foreign aid groups turn the food over to the terrorists, who would then handle distribution (and get credit for feeding starving Somalis.) ISIL does the same and is, if anything, more demanding when it comes to aid groups. Many of these aid organizations refuse to submit to that much extortion and leave.
One reason al Shabaab was eventually defeated was the fact that so many people under al Shabaab control were starving and thousands actually starved to death. ISIL is either ignorant of what happened in Somalia or chooses to ignore it, believing the God will provide what God wants to provide (a common belief among Islamic terrorists) and that anyone who starves to death is doing so because God wills it and who is ISIL to interfere. Nevertheless the antics of al Shabaab, Hamas and ISIL demonstrates to other warlords how to extort the maximum cash and goods from foreign aid groups.