Sleeper cells in Baghdad ready to rise up at ‘Zero Hour’
Iraqi insurgents are preparing for an assault on Baghdad.
Sleeper cells planted inside the capital are all set to rise up at “Zero Hour” and aid fighters pushing in from the outskirts, according to senior Iraqi and US security officials.
Sunni fighters have seized wide swathes of the north and west of the country in a three week lightning advance.
They say they are bearing down on the capital city of seven million, Reuters reported.
A man who describes himself as a member of one such cell said he has been working in Baghdad as a labourer while secretly coordinating intelligence for his group of Sunni fighters.
The attack on the capital will come soon, said the man, who asked to be called Abu Ahmed.
“We are ready. It can come any minute,” he told Reuters during a meeting in a public place, glancing nervously around to see if anyone was watching.
The government says it is rounding up members of sleeper cells to help safeguard the capital, and Shi’ite paramilitary groups say they are helping the authorities.
Iraqis speak of a “Zero Hour” as the moment a previously-prepared attack plan would start to unfold.
A high-level Iraqi security official estimated there were 1,500 sleeper cell members hibernating in western Baghdad and a further 1,000 in areas on the outskirts of the capital.
He said their goal was to penetrate the US-made “Green Zone” as a propaganda victory and then carve out enclaves in west Baghdad and in outlying areas.