By Parinoosh Arami
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Thousands of Iranians have signed up for suicide attacks on Israel, U.S.-led forces in Iraq and British author Salman Rushdie, a recruiting group said on Saturday.
Shi'ite Iran has strongly condemned the occupation of Iraq and voiced its outrage at damage to shrines in the holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala.
The father of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, condemned Rushdie to death in 1989 for alleged blasphemy in his novel "The Satanic Verses".
"Some 10,000 people have registered their names to carry out martyrdom operations on our defined targets," said Mohammad Ali Samadi, a spokesman for the Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign.
But he said the group would need the green light from Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to launch the attacks.
The independent group said it started to register Iranian men and women prepared to carry out the attacks after Friday prayers last week and sent forms to religious universities.
"Our targets are mainly the occupying American and British forces in the holy Iraqi cities, all the Zionists in Palestine, and Salman Rushdie," he said.
"It is not our fault that the Zionists have brought their wives and children to the occupied territories and have turned them into shields for themselves," he added, when asked about the killing of civilians.
"Salman Rushdie is the only non-military target for us, because we believe his attack against Islam was much worse that a military assault," the spokesman said.
Hardline cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati urged worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran to attack U.S. and British interests.
"It is the duty of every Muslim to threaten U.S. and British interests anywhere," he said.
Although Iran's reformist President Mohammad Khatami said in 2001 the death sentence against Rushdie should be seen as lifted, hardliners still occasionally call for his murder.