Shane Harris writes: The magnificent Chartwell House, a 10,000-square foot mansion surrounded by lush, manicured grounds about 18 miles from central London, might seem an odd place to start a war. But that’s where Mudhar Shawkat, a wealthy Iraqi businessman who has a long history with U.S. intelligence, is making his stand against the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
Shawkat, a Sunni who made his money in the telecom business and running a private security firm called Babylon Eagles, says he’s fielding an autonomous, Sunni army to go toe-to-toe with ISIS and liberate the huge swaths of Iraq that the militants have conquered. And his men are ready to fight without the help of the central government in Baghdad, he says.
Shawkat gave his London address on disclosure forms filed with the U.S. Senate last week, when he hired a band of Washington, DC, lobbyists to help him open a second front in his campaign. The firm is run by former Idaho senator Steve Symms and two ex-senior congressional aides. Their mission: To arrange meetings for Shawkat with U.S. lawmakers and power brokers who might bless his grand vision and help it gain support in Washington. [Continue reading…]