Tag Archives: child soldiers

Hezbollah’s Mahdi Scouts and their road to martyrdom

Hezbollah al-Mahdi boy scouts shout slogans as they march at an anti-US protest in Beirut’s southern suburbs September 17, 2012. (Reuters)

As long as there are terror entities in the shape of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its proxy Hezbollah, using the state system to brainwash youngsters into carrying out acts of terror in foreign lands, there will never be an end to terrorism.

As far as Hezbollah is concerned, it will never run out of cannon fodder, as thousands of child conscripts are being trained within its scouting groups, and are always waiting in the pipeline, ready to take up the challenge of becoming a suicide bomber or proxy warrior within the Shiite militia’s ever-diminishing ranks. The conflict in Syria has certainly taken a toll, as Hezbollah warriors die dutifully in droves for their Iranian paymasters.

Children as young as eight, who have joined the ranks of Hezbollah’s Imam al-Mahdi Scouts, are being brain-washed into learning the concepts of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s radical Shiite ideology, ready to be unleashed across the globe as part of Iran’s terror machine. As far as Hezbollah is concerned, they like to catch their conscripts at the earliest of age, and one of their favoured methods is to sign them up as Imam al-Mahdi Scouts, the youth wing of their fighting machine.

The whole point of this exercise is to program a child’s developing brain, through teaching it the concept of martyrdom, while influencing their hearts and minds, with the use of an intense program of brain washing. At summer camps, which are designed to accommodate children under the age of 10, and youths up to the age of 20, the scouts undergo military training, as well as taking part in various sporting activities.

Dehumanized through indoctrination

On a much darker side, while being dehumanized through indoctrination of radical Shiite ideology, the young novices are taught hatred of Israel, a loathing for Western culture, reverence to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and at the same time, those attending these camps are expected to swear allegiance to Hassan Nasrallah, the current Secretary General of the Lebanese political and paramilitary party Hezbollah.

Whilst taking part in parades, which come as part of the scouting curriculum, the youngsters are often seen attired in military-style uniforms, they also wear berets, and at times, headbands emblazon their foreheads bearing slogans such as “Oh Jerusalem, we are coming”, while on other occasions, scouts have been seen to wear combat paint streaked on their faces, and carry plastic rifles.

The fleur-de-lis is the internationally recognized emblem of the scout movement, a badge containing this emblem is worn by the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts, and just like all other scout troops worldwide, their emblem contains an element of their own distinction, which in the case of the Hezbollah troop contains two swords either side of it, a hand raised as if taking an oath, and it also displays an inscription beneath it reading “Obey!”

As a fighting unit, Hezbollah is no more than a proxy wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It’s function to carry out terror attacks, as well as fight in conflicts in foreign countries on behalf of the group.

With the IRGC Qods Force having moulded the Lebanese militia since its inception, having now found itself entangled in the Syrian Civil War, the IRGC finds it needs Hezbollah more than ever, and adding this to the war against ISIS that has broken out in Iraq, both military campaigns have drawn the Iranian regime ever deeper into a conflict that seems to have no end in sight.

Avoiding body count

To avoid a heavy body count, which would impact on public opinion back home, the Iranian regime has been using Hezbollah, and other foreign militias, to take on the heavy end of the fighting, in a bid to keep their own casualties to a minimum, which has left Hezbollah desperate for recruits.

Having suffered heavy losses on the battlefield over recent years, Hezbollah has been working hard to bring young recruits into its ranks, needing to create a new generation of operatives with which to replenish its battle-scarred units.

So, at a network of Imam al-Mahdi Scout camps, said to be set up in the Shiite districts of Beirut, the Beqaa Valley and South Lebanon, potential conscripts are put through rigorous military training, as well as heavy indoctrination, preparing them to take on the role of “resistance” fighters.

Hezbollah al-Mahdi scouts ride their motorcycle as they parade during an event for Jerusalem day or Al-Quds day, at the southern town of Nabatiyeh, Lebanon, Aug. 1, 2013. (AP)

As they progress in their training, in the minds of many of these raw recruits, they see themselves in pursuit of the “greater jihad”, and that by sacrificing their lives for Khamenei, they are convinced they will undergo a spiritual transformation that transports them straight to heaven.

One method of indoctrination used to influence these isolated youngsters, are books and magazines extolling the virtues of Khamenei, plus all other aspects of Iranian Shiite doctrine, and once the indoctrinated child reaches seventeen years-old, if the young scout excels in his training, his trainer approaches him with an offer to join the ranks of Hezbollah’s armed resistance group.

As far as Hezbollah is concerned, its president is the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, who is held in an aura of godliness by the faithful, who look upon him as the delegate of Imam Mahdi, or God’s representative on earth, and as such, they emulate him to the status of being the most divine individual alive, who cannot be equalled among mankind.

With Hezbollah being a dutiful proxy of Iran, the values of Iranian radical Shiite doctrine are brought into play throughout the training of the Imam al-Mahdi recruits, nurturing the child on terrorist culture, whilst glorifying the terror group’s past martyrs, most of whom have died due to their connection to Hezbollah’s terrorist activities.

Revered ‘martyrs’

The most prominent of those revered “martyrs” come in the form of its co-founder and Secretary General Abbas Mussawi, who was assassinated in 1992, and its military commander Imad Mughniya, who was assassinated in 2008, whose faces can be seen across Lebanon’s Shiite areas, staring down from huge posters.

Established in 1985, the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts is believed to have around 50,000 members, who are distributed amongst more than 500 regiments, many of whom will eventually enter Hezbollah’s armed wing, or will go on to become ardent activists of the group. Even the remainder who do not take up a vocation within the organisation, will still have become heavily indoctrinated as to radical Shiite ideology, passing it on to family and friends.

The main topic on the curriculum of the al-Mahdi scouts has always been the destruction of Israel, they are also taught that becoming a martyr to protect their land is the highest of virtues, and during these intensive summer courses, scouts are also taught weapons skills, and take part in target practice. But there is also a lighter side to lessons, where youngsters are taught to read and write, they are also taught computer skills, and lessons in administration.

Palestinian Child Soldiers: The Horrifying Silence

Hamas  3

Michael Hilkowitz //

The internationally agreed definition for a child associated with an armed force or armed group (child soldier) is any person below 18 years of age who is, or who has been, recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers, spies or for sexual purposes. It does not only refer to a child who is taking or has taken a direct part in hostilities.
(Paris Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups, 2007.)

In the last decade, the world has turned it’s attention, rightfully to the plight of child soldiers all over the world. A quick google search will show you tales of child soldiers in many parts of the world and a multitude of originizations working to help and protect these children. Researchers say that almost every conflict in the world today uses child soldiers in one way or another.

The use of child soldiers by state or non-state groups is a violation of so many international laws it is kinda hard to list them all. The following treaties, international laws and UN Security Council resolutions all explicitly outlaw the use of child soldiers:
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
UN Security Council Resolutions 1261 (1999), 1314 (2000), 1379 (2001), 1460 (2003), 1539 (2004) 1612 (2005), 1882 (2009) and 1998 (2011)
Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict
International Labour Organization (ILO) Minimum Age Convention 138
International Labour Organization (ILO) Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention 182
The Paris Commitments and Principles (2007)

And there are more. I could spend this entire post listing all of the laws, treaties and resolutions that ban the use of child soldiers from around the world and I still probably wouldn’t get them all. This is one of the most universal evils. It is roundly condemned by the civilized world, and most of the uncivilized world, everywhere it rears its evil head. There is only one place in the world where there is no talk about child soldiers. There are only a few regimes that are not called out from all corners of the map when they use child soldiers. Unfortunately for Israel, Israelis and most of all, Palestinian children, the regimes that are not condemned for this are The Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and the place is Palestine.

For some reason, we never hear any discussion of child soldiers in Palestine, but we all very clearly know they exist and that it is nothing new. The PLO, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority have for decades used children as fodder to throw rocks, fireworks and explosives at soldiers, as bombers, as lookouts and couriers. Hamas has been even more brazen, publicizing its recruitment of an army of child soldiers. In the current wave of terrorism in Israel and Palestine, we have seen attackers as young as 13 years old. These child soldiers have been called to action by Abu Mazen, The PA, and Hamas who then glorify them to encourage more children to commit attacks.

The undeniable fact is that child soldiers are used by both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in contravention of more international laws than can be reasonably counted. All of this done without a word of international condemnation. Everything you hear is about Israeli violations of international law and then there is an argument back and forth. People give statutes and interpretations of international law on both sides. But here we have a clear and unambiguous violation of international human rights, labor, war and child rights laws and we don’t hear word one from the international community.

The use of child soldiers is an unquestionable evil. This is because when child soldiers are used not only can’t their be any winners, but it makes any kind of real peace that much harder to attain. There is a line that is attributed to Golda Meir, “We can forgive them for killing our children, but we cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.” No sane person wants to kill children, it is abhorrent to us, against our very nature and biology. The use of child soldiers is designed to either kill the enemy or force the enemy to become a child killer, with all of the vast psychological damage that would do to someone. It’s a double attack, a physical attack, but much more harmfully, it is a vicious psychological attack. I can’t imagine the heartache I would feel if I had to make the choice of killing a child or letting that child kill me or others. How can anyone be expected to remain whole after being forced to make that choice? The damage is so much worse than loss, I would expect that it would damage a person’s soul. Beyond that, this strategy destroys or poisons an entire generation of Palestinian children, and the Palestinians have already lost too many generations children, both as soldiers and civilians. This strategy literally kills the future of the Palestinian people.

How can this sort of atrocity be ignored by the world? Why don’t we hear anything from the press about this? While I see reports and resolutions about child soldiers all over the world, why don’t we see anything about it here? Why is this allowed to continue without comment. We Israelis don’t even talk about it. We cower at the idea of the International Criminal Court, but the case against the PA and Hamas is much stronger and getting stronger everyday as both of these governments blatantly, publicly and admittedly continue to use child soldiers.

The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is probably the most highly politicized and publicized conflict in the world, everyone has a position no matter where you live in the world. But this is something that everyone should be able to come together on. Palestinian children are being used to make war, as pawns to be thrown away as a strategy. This should concern everyone, those who care for Palestine and want to see Palestinian children safe, prosperous and psychologically whole. It should concern those who care for Israel and want to see Israeli children safe, prosperous and psychologically whole. This should concern those of us like myself who care for both Israel and Palestine and want the best for both of our peoples. This should concern everyone, no matter what your view is of who is right and who is wrong. This is an evil that we should all work to stop for the sake of all of our children.

Hezbollah’s child soldiers

  Evidence of Party of God sending minors into battle has mounted steadily over the last year

Alex Rowell//

In July 2014, Hezbollah buried a 16-year-old fighter, Muhammad Ali Hussein Awada, who had been killed fighting Syrian opposition militants in the mountainous Lebanese-Syrian border zone. The revelation of his age, observers noted at the time, implied the Party of God – straining to hold larger swathes of territory with fewer men – had abandoned its former requirement that all fighters sent into live combat be at least 18 years of age.

Since then, evidence of Hezbollah sending children – defined by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as all people under 18 – to the frontlines of the war in Syria has mounted steadily. The pro-Hezbollah website SouthLebanon.org, which publicizes funerals of the militia’s fighters killed “in confrontation with the mercenaries of disbelief and Wahhabism” – a reference to Sunni militants – has to date published photos of over two dozen “mujahideen martyrs” who appear likely to have been under 18 (see above image).

When the case of one obviously juvenile fatality, that of 15-year-old Mashhoor Shams al-Din, came to light in April 2015, the Party issued a statement denying he was killed fighting in Syria, claiming instead that he succumbed to a “saddening accident” in south Lebanon. Syrian opposition activists had asserted he was killed fighting in Syria’s Qalamoun region; the same place 16-year-old Awada was killed the previous year.

Lebanon is no stranger to the use of child soldiers. During frequent clashes in the northern city of Tripoli in 2012-13 between the feuding neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, several videos emerged of children participating in the battles, including one of a boy scarcely out of infancy, the recoil of his AK-47 almost knocking him off his feet.

Throughout the 1975-90 civil war, too, child soldier recruitment was widespread, with Progressive Socialist Party militia leader Walid Jumblatt, for example, admitting to using soldiers “as young as ten.”

And in the present Syrian civil war, a June 2015 UN report found almost every faction, pro- and anti-regime, from Hezbollah and the so-called Popular Committees to ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra to the Kurdish YPG and the Free Syrian Army, to be guilty of deploying child soldiers.

International law forbids the recruitment of soldiers under 18, especially by non-state militias, such as Hezbollah. Article 4 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC), adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2000, says, “Armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of a State should not, under any circumstances, recruit or use in hostilities persons under the age of 18 years.” It also stipulates that “Parties shall take all feasible measures to prevent such recruitment and use, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices” – meaning Lebanon, which is a signatory to OPAC, is compelled by international law to take action to prevent Hezbollah’s – and any other militia’s – ongoing use of child soldiers.