Imam al-Mahdi Scouts
|Imam al-Mahdi Scouts|
|Arabic: كشاف الإمام المهدي|
|Founded||5 May 1985|
|President||Dr. Bilal Naim|
|Affiliation||Lebanese Scouting Federation|
The Imam al-Mahdi Scouts (Arabic: كشاف الإمام المهدي) is a youth movement that was established in Lebanon on 5 May 1985 by the political and paramilitary organization Hezbollah. It is named for Muhammad al-Mahdi.
The Imam al-Mahdi Scouts became a member of the Lebanese Scouting Federation and thus of the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1998. The organization has about 42,000 members of both genders between the ages of 8-16 organized into 500 local groups.
Activities include camping, community service projects such as helping the disabled and cleaning places of worship, computing, fishing, team sports, boxing, reading classes, learning administrative skills, learning about Islam and protecting the environment.
The organization is divided in three sections according to age (youngest to oldest):
Emblem and uniform
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The previous emblem of the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts includes the Scout fleur-de-lis, in the top center of which is a hand with an out-turned palm, possibly the Hand of Fatima, and supported on left and right by single scimitars; the text, which says وأطيعوا, meaning "obey". The new emblem changes the color pattern and removes the scimitars.
On 1 January 2007, Fox News reported on the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts. In the report footage, the youth look very much like mainstream Scouts, with uniforms in light and medium blue, white, yellow and purple for different groups, as well as badges similar to mainstream Scouts. The flag of the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts was shown flown from cars and along the roadside and features their emblem.
According to the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) at the Center for Special Studies (CSS), the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts were established in 1985 and are operated under the jurisdiction of the Lebanese Ministry of Education despite the movement's instructing tens of thousands of children and teenagers in military tactics and that they are "indoctrinated with the principles of radical Iranian Islam" at summer training camps in Shi'a communities in Beirut, the Beqaa Valley and south Lebanon.
The ITIC reports that male Imam al-Mahdi Scouts turning 17 make their way into Hezbollah's fighting ranks and that information appearing on the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts calendar notes more than 120 of the Scout’s members died as shaheeds in Hezbollah militant activity, including suicide bombers (supported by English version of site); however, a Fox report said very few of the Scouts are actually chosen. In an interview with an Al Jazeera journalist, a Scout leader stated that there was no obligation for Scouts to join the armed militants.
Robert F. Worth discussed the connections of the Mahdi Scouts with the Hezbollah in an article published in Scotland On Sunday on 23 November 2008. In this article, Bilal Naim, Hezbollah's former director for the Mahdi Scouts is cited: "After age 16 the boys mostly go to resistance or military activities".
- "Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S)-September 11, 2006". Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S). 11 September 2006. Archived from the original on 9 February 2007.
- "Egyptian Weekly on Hizbullah's Armed Children's Militias". The Middle East Media Research Institute. 1 September 2006.
- Coombes, Andrew (21 December 2007). "Hezbollah's Scout brigade". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- "Member Associations". Lebanese Scouting Federation. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
- 'English: General overview of the association'[permanent dead link], (almahdiscouts.net)
- "Die Kindermärtyrer der Hisbollah-Ägyptische Wochenzeitschrift über die bewaffneten Kinder-Milizen der Hizbollah-Deutsche Übersetzung der AARON-Edition" (PDF) (in German and English). AARON-Edition Bern. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
- "LE HEZBOLLAH RECRUTE DES ENFANTS D'A PEINE DIX ANS" (in French). www.nuitdorient.com. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
- Russell Berman (2 September 2006). "Cradle to Grave: Hezbollah Children". TELOS-A quarterly Journal on Politics, Philosophy, Critical Theory and Culture and the arts. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
- "'Ayatollah, we will do our best...' - Lebanon's scout masters drill shock troops of Hezbollah jihad". Scotland On Sunday. 23 November 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
- "Hisbollah wie Hitler-Jugend" (in German). kath.net-Katholischer Nachrichtendienst. 29 July 2006. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
- "Hisbollah–die Armee des Bösen" (in German). Bild.de. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
- Peter Conzen. "Fanatismus-Psychoanalyse eines unheimlichen Phänomens" (PDF) (in German). Technische Universität Darmstadt. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
- (in Arabic) Official homepage
- Time magazine: Photo Essay: Inside Hezbollah
- The Middle East Media Research Institute: Egyptian Weekly on Hizbullah's Armed Children's Militias
- New York Times Article, Nov 21, 2008 : Hezbollah Seeks to Marshal the Piety of the Young
- Al-Jazeera Article, June 30, 2008 : Hezbollah's Scout Brigade
- PHOTO ESSAY The Mahdi Scouts: Youth of Hizballah