Hezbollah’s boy scouts

In the year since the [2006 Israel-Hezbollah] war, the Mahdi Scouts had nearly doubled its national enrollment to 60,000. They had run out of capacity to admit more, [the chief of Hezbollah’s scouts] Bilal Naim said, but they were expanding as fast as they could. Hezbollah policed its community tightly, but not without concern for ...

JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images

In the year since the [2006 Israel-Hezbollah] war, the Mahdi Scouts had nearly doubled its national enrollment to 60,000. They had run out of capacity to admit more, [the chief of Hezbollah's scouts] Bilal Naim said, but they were expanding as fast as they could. Hezbollah policed its community tightly, but not without concern for its mental well-being. Constant warfare (or mobilization for such) took its toll, especially on children and on the families of martyrs.

One goal of the scouts was to comfort the afflicted. The scouts tried to maintain a state of normalcy -- at least as Hezbollah defined it -- for its most vulnerable members. If left to their own devices, Bilal Naim said, the children of martyrs would isolate themselves and develop emotional problems. "We try to raise the children in the community and find new husbands for the widows," he said. "Otherwise the children become complicated, and develop unhealthy behaviors like aggression."

In the year since the [2006 Israel-Hezbollah] war, the Mahdi Scouts had nearly doubled its national enrollment to 60,000. They had run out of capacity to admit more, [the chief of Hezbollah’s scouts] Bilal Naim said, but they were expanding as fast as they could. Hezbollah policed its community tightly, but not without concern for its mental well-being. Constant warfare (or mobilization for such) took its toll, especially on children and on the families of martyrs.

One goal of the scouts was to comfort the afflicted. The scouts tried to maintain a state of normalcy — at least as Hezbollah defined it — for its most vulnerable members. If left to their own devices, Bilal Naim said, the children of martyrs would isolate themselves and develop emotional problems. “We try to raise the children in the community and find new husbands for the widows,” he said. “Otherwise the children become complicated, and develop unhealthy behaviors like aggression.”

Read more.

Thanassis Cambanis, author of Once Upon a Revolution: An Egyptian Story and A Privilege to Die: Inside Hezbollah’s Legions and Their Endless War Against Israel, is a fellow at the Century Foundation. Follow him on Twitter: @tcambanis. Twitter: @tcambanis

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