Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - If you're worried about what your kids might be doing at their scout meetings, consider this: Hizballah is training children as young as 10 years old in its affiliated scouts program to become martyrs, according to a report in an Egyptian newspaper.
Hizballah has recruited more than 2,000 children 10-15 years of age to form armed militias. Before the recent Israeli-Hizballah war, they appeared only in the annual Jerusalem Day celebrations. Since then, they are being called "martyrs," the Egyptian weekly Ros Al-Yusuf reported in its Aug. 18 edition.
The Middle East Media Research Institute provided a translation of the article on Thursday.
Roz Al-Yusuf is a well-respected, independent Egyptian paper. Considered an intellectual publication, it opposes the radical Muslim brotherhood in Egypt, as well as all other Islamic fundamentalist groups in the Middle East, one source said.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has acted decisively and some would say brutally in the past against Islamic fundamentalism in his country
The "investigative article" by Mirfat Al-Hakim was accompanied by several pictures, including one of a number of children dressed in military fatigues, standing in military formation and holding what appeared to be real automatic weapons.
"Hizballah has customarily recruited youths and children and trained them to fight from a very early age. These are children barely 10 years old, who wear camouflage uniforms, cover their faces with black [camouflage] paint, swear to wage jihad [holy war] and join the Mahdi Scouts [youth organization]," the paper reported.
"The children are selected by Hizballah recruitment [officers] based on one criterion only: They must be willing to become martyrs," it said.
The children are educated by the Hizballah-affiliated Mahdi Scouts organization on the basic principles of Shi'ite Muslim and Hizballah ideology. The first lesson is about the "disappearance of Israel," the article said.
Quoting from the Mahdi Scouts website (which according to MEMRI is no longer operative), the paper said that 1,491 scouts had undergone training by the end of 2004, and 120 of its members have been ready to become "martyrs."
In its recent foray into southern Lebanon, Israeli troops confiscated material from a Hizballah-affiliated charity used to raise funds for the group, including a kit to be used to indoctrinate children on the ideology of Hizballah, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported.
Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallh's deputy, Na'im Qasim, was quoted in the Egyptian article extolling the virtues of child martyrdom.
"A nation with child martyrs will be victorious, no matter what difficulties lie in its path," he reportedly said in a radio interview.
According to the paper, the organization aims to train a generation of "exemplary" Muslims based on the principles of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, who are supposed to prepare the way for the coming of the Shi'ite messiah.
Hizballah's patron, Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, believes he is to usher in the coming of this messiah, experts say.
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