Iraq's Army of Suicide Bombers

"Hassan" says he and other Iraqis are waiting for the word from their religious leaders to begin suicide bombing attacks against U.S. troops. CBS

In a Baghdad suburb, a new threat is brewing for the U.S. military: young men praying for guidance - who are also waiting for orders. The ones wearing white say they want to become "chaid" martyrs. They're ready, they say, to fight and die, reports CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.

"I will fasten a bomb to my body and explode myself in front of an American tank," says "Hassan," a volunteer martyr who spoke through a translator.

"Hassan" is 36 and single. His parents are dead and he lives in the poorest, most desperate section of Baghdad.

And he's not alone in his desire for martyrdom.

Hassan says "even the kids want to do it."

The orders, or "fatwa," will come from the shrine of Ali in Najaf. It's the headquarters of the Shia branch of Islam.

And the word will be spread by clerics like Muktadahr al Sadr, who claims to have 5,000 recruits for a new Islamic army.

He's one of the most outspoken critics of the American presence in Iraq. Publicly, he's urging peaceful resistance.

But these young men say they know a new message is coming.

"I don't know when it will come," says Hassan. "But it will come from the top."

The "fatwa" is an ancient religious instruction of Islam. But these are modern times. So the mullahs here in Baghdad expect the message to come by satellite phone. It will spell out the reason for the order, and the target. Then it's up to the chaid, the martyrs in white to carry it out.

Hassan claims the nation's newfound freedom has brought him nothing. That's why he's willing to give his life.

"We have no job, no work. I can't live in my home or walk in the street," says Hassan. "I don't want to kill Americans, but if the fatwa comes, I will."

Since the end of major combat operations, the U.S. has focused its efforts on finding Saddam, restoring law and order and targeting new terrorist groups. But an army of martyrs is now growing in Iraq, threatening to confront the coalition with more bloody battles.

  • Melissa Cheung

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