Jibouri explains that the Islamic State was able to mobilize so quickly because it had planted “sleeper cells” in the Sunni regions. These hidden agents are mostly younger than 25; they grew up in the years of the insurgency and U.S. occupation, watching as their fathers were killed or taken off to prison. “These men were brought up in the culture of vendetta and revenge,” he says.
Gaood agrees that when the jihadists swept into the nearby town of Hit, 1,000 of these sleepers suddenly appeared, shattering local security.One argument is that the Anbar tribes only took to fighting AQI when the socioeconomic elite saw their economic interests threatened:
Contrary to a somewhat naïve, yet often repeated, representation, the Sahwa never arose out of revived "tribal patriotism" against al-Qaeda. It began in 2005 over the al-Anbar tribes' loss of control over key resources, mainly reconstruction contracts and illicit revenues drawn from smuggling, robbery and black marketeering. Once hospitable to al-Qaeda and its affiliates, the tribes had increasingly grown resentful of their violent interference and hijacking of local business.So are these "sleeper cells" anything more than poor young men revolting against a discredited,venal cadre of local leaders and a national government that seems intent on excluding them? The more distressing point to be made is that many Iraqis are, for the time being, prepared to live under the rule of the Islamic State.