“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” — Qur’an 9:29
“Aid agencies ‘paid Somalia’s al-Shabab’ during famine,” from BBC, December 9:
Aid agencies paid Somalia’s al-Shabab militants for access to areas under their control in the 2011 famine, according to a joint report by two think tanks.
In many cases al-Shabab insisted on distributing the aid and kept much of it for itself, the report says.
Some of the groups are still paying al-Shabab to operate in the large parts of Somalia it still holds, it adds.
More than 250,000 people died during the famine, caused by a drought.
The disaster affected more than 13 million people across the Horn of Africa and triggered a major refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of Somalis fleeing the rural areas controlled by al-Shabab.
The militant group had banned several international aid agencies.
Many people walked over the border to camps in Kenya and Ethiopia or to Somalia’s government-controlled capital, Mogadishu.
‘Sign a pledge’
The report – by the Overseas Development Institute and the Mogadishu-based Heritage Institute for Policy Studies – details how al-Shabab demanded from the agencies what it described as “registration fees” of up to $10,000 (Â£6,100).
It gives one example of al-Shabab diverting food aid in the town of Baidoa, where it is reported to have kept between half and two-thirds of food aid for its fighters.
Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, developed a highly sophisticated system of monitoring and co-opting the aid agencies, even setting up a “Humanitarian Co-ordination Office”.
Aid groups had to deal with this office, even though they risked legal problems by doing so because of counter-terrorism laws in other states which forbid engagement with groups like al-Shabab.
The report says agencies who worked in al-Shabab-held areas had to complete special forms and sign a pledge saying they would refrain from certain social and religious activities.
It also describes how al-Shabab gave people extra food if they spied on the aid groups.
Some agencies were banned outright by al-Shabab, including most UN agencies, while others withdrew because of the demands.
The report does not specify which agencies agreed to pay fees to al-Shabab.
The UN declared the famine over in February 2012.
Over the last two years, al-Shabab militants have been driven out of Somalia’s major towns and cities by pro-government forces and a UN-mandated African Union force of some 18,000 soldiers.
But the Islamist group still controls many towns and rural areas of southern Somalia.