The Scout movement is investigating whether a branch in Lebanon is training young people to become Islamic terrorists, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The Imam Al-Mahdi Scouts, which has 45,000 members – boys and girls – is officially recognised by the World Scouting Movement, whose mission is ‘to help build a better world’.
The Lebanese group uses the famous fleur-de-lis logo adopted by Lord Baden-Powell, the British Army officer who founded the Scout movement in 1908, and members wear its traditional uniforms and scarves.
But the Al-Mahdi group is actually the youth wing of Hezbollah, one of the world’s most feared terrorist groups, which is accused of slaughter and suicide bombings in Israel, Lebanon and parts of Syria.
The Scout movement is investigating whether a branch in Lebanon is training young people to become Islamic terrorists. Pictured: Imam Al-Mahdi members with a Hezbollah fighter (face obscured) in an image on Facebook
Last year, the British Government added Hezbollah ‘in its entirety’ to its list of proscribed terrorist organisations. The list previously included only its military wing.
This newspaper can reveal that young recruits to the Al-Mahdi Scouts are groomed from the ages of four to become supporters and fighters for Hezbollah, which is backed with funds and weaponry from Iran.
The Scouts have provided ‘honour guards’ at the funerals of known Hezbollah terrorists, while other members have been pictured posing with armed fighters, wearing military uniforms and headbands with anti-Israel slogans such as ‘Jerusalem – We Are Coming!’
However, the Al-Mahdi Scouts continues to be an official member of the Lebanese Scouting Federation and the wider World Scouting Movement, which is championed by British explorer and TV personality Bear Grylls, Chief Scout of the UK’s Scout Association.
The group has previously denied reports that older Scouts are given military training with weapons but it has admitted that many of its adolescent members go on to become fighters for Hezbollah, which has waged a guerrilla war against Israel for decades and is now is fighting alongside the brutal Assad regime in Syria.
Intelligence sources claim more than 200 former members of the Al-Mahdi Scouts have died fighting against Israel and in the civil war in Syria.
Pictured: Imam Al-Mahdi’s fleur-de-lis
The Facebook page of the Scout group this week promoted a 2020 calendar featuring a picture of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who last month vowed to orchestrate attacks on Western targets in revenge for the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian military commander who died in an American drone strike.
Other posts by the group included images of young Cub Scouts pointing towards Israel with slogans promoting Hezbollah’s so-called ‘resistance’ to the occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Membership of the Al-Mahdi group is limited to young Shia Muslims in Hezbollah’s heartlands in southern Lebanon, Beirut and the Beqaa Valley.
Last night, the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) announced it had launched an investigation into this newspaper’s findings.
Spokesman David Venn said: ‘WOSM disapproves of any practices that misuse the Scout programme to involve children and youth in political recruitment or in using the Scout programme for affiliation with any political party.’
The World Scouting Conference, the governing body of the international scouting movement, is due to meet in Egypt later this year, where delegates could consider the future of Al-Mahdi Scouts and the Lebanese Scouting Federation.
At a 1999 conference, delegates voted to ban Iran from World Scouting.
Source: Daily Mail – Articles