- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 31, 2001

The FBI and the State Department yesterday took over the search for four foreign Boy Scouts reported missing from the National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Bowling Green, Va.
The four Scouts, ranging in age from 14 to 17, were part of a group of nine Scouts from Tanzania and were last seen by their scoutmaster Sunday afternoon.
"It's pretty definite that [the boys] just left," said FBI spokeswoman Mary Johlie in Richmond. "They may have a relative here and may have left voluntarily."
Scout and military officials began searching the Army base Sunday for the boys, whose names have not been released because they are minors. The search then expanded to outside the Army post in Caroline County, Va.
The FBI was called on the scene early yesterday and determined quickly the boys were nowhere to be found on the Army base. "I think its safe to say right now, there was no foul play," Miss Johlie said.
She said speculation that the boys may be trying to defect to the United States has not been ruled out, adding that "right now the most important thing is to find the boys."
The FBI called on the State Department to contact the boys' families in Tanzania, Miss Johlie said. "We're trying to determine whether they did indeed have relatives here in the United States. Hopefully their families in Tanzania will know of whether there are other family members here."
Virginia State Police Lt. Don Fields said that at least some of the missing Scouts have relatives in Maryland, and that a relative had been seen visiting the boys last week.
Miss Johlie said one of the four boys may have a brother somewhere in the United States, but the investigation has not determined where.
Greg Shield, spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, said the Tanzanian contingency traveled to Fort A.P. Hill specifically to participate in the Jamboree, which began July 23 and ends tomorrow.
About 30,000 Scouts have participated in the gathering and about 300 came from 26 foreign nations, Mr. Shield said. More than 7,000 volunteers have been involved and about 4,000 Scout leaders have participated.
The nation's 91-year-old Scouting group has grown to about 5 million participants after dipping as low as 3.1 million in 1979.
The case of the four missing Tanzanian boys yesterday was the third thing to go wrong at the Jamboree, which has come to be known as the "Olympics of Boy Scouting."
Torrential downpours dumped 2 inches of rain on the event and left two Scouts struck by lightning Thursday. The victims were reported in good condition and released from Mary Washington Hospital by Friday evening.
More rain on Sunday prevented President Bush from making a short flight from Washington to the Jamboree to address the Scouts.
Mr. Bush delivered videotaped remarks yesterday, hailing the Boy Scouts and saying the organization's values "are the values of America."
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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