ISIS Is Using Starvation as a Weapon

WARNING: Unblurred graphic image below.

We thought we’d seen the worst of ISIS’s brutality. After they marked the homes of Christians in Mosul, after they sold Yazidi girls as sex slaves, after they blew up the al-Nuri mosque… what more could they do?

Then we met Mohammed, and we learned about ISIS’s newest tactic: weaponized starvation.

Mohammed, 23, stumbled out of Mosul’s Old City, badly starved to the point of death. One of our doctors who visited Mohammed said he was more than a victim of circumstance. ISIS had deliberately starved him.

Warning: Mohammed’s photo (below) is hard to look at. We debated whether we should even share it with you. But in the end, we decided we had to. One of our dearest Iraqi friends and colleagues, Hala Al Saraf, urged us to share Mohammed’s story for a very important reason.

“We need these stories to be revealed,” she said. “We need others to know about them. The very idea that you put a person to starve is scary. The West must know the danger of the line of thought of ISIS and prevent their children from getting tempted into such mentality.”

But there’s another reason you need to hear Mohammed’s story. Because there are many others like him. “There are cases like this in most hospitals in Mosul,” said our doctor after visiting Mohammed.

Make no mistake: the battle for Mosul is STILL raging. At least 50,000 people are STILL trapped in ISIS territory. They have nothing to eat. Some, like Mohammed, are being deliberately targeted for starvation.

Others are eating grass to survive, as we shared before. Some are using what little money they have left to buy cardboard boxes—boiling them in water until they’re soft and feeding them to their children.

The situation in west Mosul is dire.

We’re rushing food and water to the frontlines. Our ambulances are rushing starved, injured evacuees to our nearby triage clinic.

We cannot look the other way. We’re already feeding families on the edges of Mosul’s Old City. As the battle moves further in, we will too—serving as close to the frontlines as we possibly can.

This is what Mohammed looked like before ISIS, before this living nightmare, before he was deliberately starved. May it remind you of what was before—and what can be, with your help.

We stand with Mohammed and everyone in Mosul who has endured unfathomable cruelty at the hands of ISIS. We will keep showing up with food, water, medical care—and most of all, with your love for the people of Mosul.


 Send food, water, and medical care to starving, injured families in Mosul.

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About Ben Irwin

Husband, father, storyteller, children's book author, occasional marathon runner, and director of communications and PR for Preemptive Love Coalition

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ISIS Using Starvation as a Weapon
ISIS Is Using Starvation as a Weapon
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