Hezbollah's Mahdi Scouts { 20 images } Created 8 Mar 2009

The Imam al-Mahdi Scouts are one of Hezbollah's many social programs in Lebanon. Originally founded in 1985, the youth-centered scout program includes both boys and girls, and counts at least 40,000 members in it's ranks, divided into the classifications of Cub, Scout, and Ranger. Although the Mahdi Scouts are part of the Lebanese Scouting Federation, and thereby The World Organization of the Scout Movement, it is believed by some intelligence services that the Mahdi Scouts serve as a recruiting tool for Hezbollah's armed wing, filtering out potential fighters based on their discipline and religious devotion, as well as initiating the male Scouts and Rangers into basic military training. In contrast to these accusations, much of the Mahdi Scouts visible activities center around intense religious education, outdoor activities, arts and crafts, performances, as well as community based social assistance and service similar to those practiced by scout movements around the world.
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