It is late morning in a cafe in London’s Sloane Square, and over coffee and croissants, the ex-mercenary Simon Mann is sketching out a plot to topple the Islamic State. Perhaps not suprisingly for someone who spent five years in jail for his role in the botched “Wonga Coup”, he makes it clear that he has no immediate plans to do so. But if someone did ring up for his help – just as they did in Equatorial Guinea, and before that in Angola and Sierra Leone – here is how he’d go about it.
“If someone from the Iraqi government said ‘Okay Simon, we have got the money for you to put together a 2,000-strong force’, I would tell them ‘yes, we could probably do something useful’,” says the Eton-educated former Scots Guard and SAS man. “Isil are probably more terrifying than they are competent, and it all comes down to training and experience at the end of the day.