Al Qaeda in Iraq to Recruit Locals for Attacks

Iraq's most feared terror group said Tuesday that it has formed a unit of potential suicide attackers who are exclusively Iraqis, an apparent bid to deflect criticism that most bombers in Iraq are foreigners.

Al Qaeda in Iraq (search) announced the unit in an Internet posting signed by Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, the group's purported spokesman. The statement could not be authenticated, but it appeared on an Islamic Web site known for carrying messages from militant groups.

"In response to God's decree, and the heavy insistence of the (Iraqi) brothers and their longing for paradise, the Ansar platoon from the land of Iraq has been formed," the posting said.

"Dozens hurried to register their names to meet their God," the posting said. It told of one Iraqi youth who had rebuked his leader for failing to give him a suicide assignment, telling him he would complain to God on the Day of Judgment because "you prevented me from meeting my God."

The U.S. military has said foreign fighters are a small percentage — perhaps one in 10 — of the insurgents fighting the U.S. presence in Iraq. They do a disproportionate amount of killing, however, in part because they are more likely to carry out suicide bombings.

U.S. and other analysts say the foreign fighters are primarily Islamic militants waging what they regard as jihad or holy war, while the much larger homegrown, mostly Sunni Arab, insurgency has tended to be motivated more by political grievance and factional rivalry.

Al Qaeda in Iraq is led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search), a Jordanian. It has claimed responsibility for many of the bloodiest attacks on coalition and Iraqi targets since the 2003 overthrow of the dictator Saddam Hussein.