The boy scout movement is investigating whether a branch in Lebanon is training young people to become Islamic terrorists, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Imam Al-Mahdi Scouts, who has 45,000 members – boys and girls – is officially recognized by the World Scout 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 their traditional uniforms and scarves.
But the Al-Mahdi group is actually the youth wing of Hezbollah, one of the most feared terrorist groups in the world, which is accused of massacres 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: Members of Imam Al-Mahdi with Hezbollah fighter (face masked) in an image on Facebook
Last year, the British government added Hezbollah “in its entirety” to its list of banned terrorist organizations. The list previously only included its military wing.
This diary can reveal that the young recruits of Al-Mahdi’s scouts are prepared from the age of four to become supporters and fighters of Hezbollah, which is supported by funds and weapons from Iran.
Scouts provided “honor guards” at the funerals of known Hezbollah terrorists, while other members were pictured posing with armed fighters, wearing military uniforms and headbands with anti-Israel slogans such as ” Jerusalem – We are coming! “
However, Al-Mahdi Scouts continue to be an official member of the Lebanese Scout Federation and the World Scout Movement at large, which is championed by British explorer and TV personality Bear Grylls, Chief Scout from the UK Scout Association.
The group previously denied reports that older boy scouts were receiving military training with weapons, but admitted that many of its teenage members were becoming fighters for Hezbollah, which has waged a guerrilla war against Israel for decades. and is now fighting alongside the brutal Assad regime in Syria.
Intelligence sources say more than 200 former Al-Mahdi scouts have died in combat against Israel and in the civil war in Syria.
Pictured: Imam Al-Mahdi’s fleur-de-lis
The Scout Group Facebook page this week promoted a 2020 calendar featuring a photo of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who last month vowed to orchestrate attacks on Western targets in revenge for the murder of Qasem Soleimani , Iranian military commander who died in an American drone strike.
Other posts from the group included images of young Cubs pointing at Israel with slogans promoting Hezbollah’s so-called “resistance” to the occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Membership in the Al-Mahdi group is limited to young Shia Muslims from the heart of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, Beirut and the Bekaa Valley.
Last night, the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) announced that it had launched an investigation into the newspaper’s findings.
Spokesman David Venn said: “WOSM does not approve of any practice that abuses the Scout program to involve children and young people in political recruitment or in the use of the Scout program to join a political party.”
The World Scout Conference, the governing body of the international Scout movement, is due to meet in Egypt later this year, where delegates could consider the future of Scouts from Al-Mahdi and the Lebanese Scout Federation.
At a conference in 1999, delegates voted to ban Iran from World Scouting.