"Officials foil al Qaeda Green Zone plot
By Bassem Mroue
March 15, 2006
BAGHDAD -- Security officials foiled a plot that would have put hundreds of al Qaeda terrorists at guard posts around Baghdad's Green Zone, home to the U.S. and other foreign embassies as well as the Iraqi government, the interior minister said yesterday.
A senior Defense Ministry official confirmed the plot and said 421 al Qaeda men had been recruited to storm the U.S. and British embassies and take hostages. Several ranking Defense Ministry officials have been jailed in the plot, the official said on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.
The disclosure came amid a wave of apparent reprisal slayings, with officials saying police had found the bodies of at least 87 persons killed in execution style over the previous 24 hours.
They included four men shot in the head and hanged from electricity pylons in Sadr City, a teeming Shi'ite slum in which 58 persons died and more than 200 were wounded in car bomb and mortar attacks on food markets over the weekend.
Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said in an interview that the al Qaeda recruits were one bureaucrat's signature away from being accepted into an Iraqi army battalion whose job is to control the gates and main squares in the Green Zone. The plot was discovered three weeks ago.
"You can imagine what could happen to a minister or an ambassador while passing through these gates when those terrorists are there," Mr. Jabr said in his office inside the 2-square-mile maze of concrete blast walls, concertina wire and checkpoints known as the Green Zone." .........