Lebanese scouts group investigated over Hezbollah link

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Updated 17 February 2020

Lebanese scouts group investigated over Hezbollah link

  • The Lebanese scouts have provided “honor guards” for the funerals of known Hezbollah terrorists, while photos show scouts posing with armed fighters

LONDON: Famous for their fleur-de-lis symbol, nonpolitical education and focus on outdoor adventure, scouting groups have been established all over the world.
But Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper has reported that the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) is investigating a Lebanese scouting outfit for alleged links with terror group Hezbollah.
The Imam Al-Mahdi Scouts, which has 45,000 young male and female members, stands accused of training young Lebanese to become terrorists.
The Lebanese group has adopted the world-famous fleur-de-lis symbol, which was introduced by Robert Baden-Powell, a lieutenant general in the British Army in the early 20th century. The young scouts also wear the movement’s traditional scarves and uniforms.
But they differ from other scouting organizations by being the youth wing of Hezbollah, which has carried out terror attacks throughout the Middle East.
Hezbollah was last year proscribed “in its entirety” by the British government, having previously only faced legal sanctions for its military wing.
An investigation by the Mail on Sunday appears to show that young recruits to the Imam Al-Mahdi Scouts are indoctrinated from the age of four to become fighters for Hezbollah, which receives Iranian financial and military backing. Iran has been banned from World Scouting since 1999.
The Lebanese scouts have provided “honor guards” for the funerals of known Hezbollah terrorists, while photos show scouts posing with armed fighters.
Despite the strictly nonpolitical nature of the scouting world, some of the photographed youngsters are seen wearing military uniforms.
Despite the revelations, the Imam Al-Mahdi Scouts remain an official member of the Lebanese Scouting Federation and the WOSM.
Membership of the group is limited to Shiite Muslims in Hezbollah’s heartlands in southern Lebanon, Beirut and the Beqaa Valley.
On Saturday, the WOSM said it had launched an investigation into the group. Spokesman David Venn said: “WOSM disapproves of any practices that misuse the Scout program to involve children and youth in political recruitment or in using the Scout program for affiliation with any political party.”


Jordan reopens mosques for socially distanced prayers

Updated 24 min 12 sec ago

Jordan reopens mosques for socially distanced prayers

  • The kingdom is gradually easing restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus outbreak

AMMAN: Mosques in Jordan opened for communal prayers for the first time in over two months on Friday, with thousands of police deployed to enforce strict social distancing rules at the usually packed places of worship.
The kingdom is gradually easing restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus outbreak, which killed nine people in Jordan.
From Saturday, cafes and hotels can reopen and domestic flights will resume, although schools, universities and cinemas remain closed and most public gatherings are still banned.
Over 30,000 police were deployed to oversee crowds attending prayers at the country's 7,000 mosques on Friday, officials said.
Worshippers in the predominantly Muslim country were asked to wear masks, limit prayer time and perform the ablution rite, the act of washing the face, arms and legs before prayer, at home. In some mosques, the floor was marked to designate the spots where worshippers could lay down their prayer rugs at a safe distance from their neighbours.
Since a strict lockdown began in mid-March, the authorities have arrested several people, including clerics, for flouting the ban on prayers inside mosques.