BAGHDAD — Karar Smilee has a friend in Canada.

The 12-year-old Iraqi boy doesn’t know his friend’s name and hasn’t seen his face, but he’s a friend, nonetheless, Karar said.

“I met him on the Internet. I like the Internet,” he said Thursday after receiving a patch for his participation in the Internet jamboree in October along with other Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from around the world.

U.S. forces and Iraqis are working to rebuild the once-robust Scouting organization in Iraq, starting with a group of elementary pupils in the heavily protected Green Zone of Baghdad.

“The Iraqis are going through a very difficult time and want to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Nima Motashar, president of the Green Zone Council of Iraqi Scouts.

“There are more than 6 millions students in Iraq. We know how active kids can be, so we are trying to teach them first, Scouts’ values,” from being trustworthy to friendly, brave, clean and loyal to Iraq and not to its sects, he said.

“Second, we need to keep these kids away from troubles and teach them some good things for their future during their summer holiday through Scout camps,” Motashar said. “So our objective is that to build a free and secure nation, we need to put the future generation onto the right track.”

Iraq once was a leader in Middle Eastern Scouting, U.S. officials said. An organization was created in 1921 by British military personnel stationed here, and Iraqi Scouts became members of the World Organization of the Scout Movement and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 1922.

Under former President Saddam Hussein, the program faltered and eventually disappeared. It was resurrected in 2004 under the old Coalition Provisional Authority.

The Green Zone Council of Iraqi Scouts is branching out to all of Iraq’s 18 provinces and working to regain admission into the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

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