​‘Use mercenaries to defeat ISIS,’ says former SAS soldier

British mercenary Simon Mann (C) listens to evidence during his trial for organising a failed 2004 coup in Malabo June 20, 2008 (Reuters / Daniel Flynn)
Mercenaries may be the key to defeating the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), according to former SAS soldier Simon Mann. He says private military firms are already in touch with the Iraqi government.

Mann, who is most famous for his involvement in the failed 2004 Wonga Coup in Equatorial Guinea, told the Telegraph: “I would form a kind of Arab Legion, just like the British did in the old days.”

He said private military involvement could help to improve the Iraqi Army, which has suffered numerous setbacks when faced with the insurgent group.

With the right training, probably a minimum of two months, you can turn pretty much anyone into good troops, as long as you have good officers and good NCOs,” he said.

READ MORE: Britain to send 125 more military trainers to Iraq

Mann was sentenced in 2005 to 34 years in an African prison after failing to overthrow Guinea’s dictator Teodoro Obiang in a plot that received wide press coverage.

He was eventually released on ‘humanitarian grounds’ in 2009.

Don’t get me wrong, ISIS are probably very frightening up front, although I doubt they are as professionally trained as the rebels we came up [against] in Angola,” he told the paper in a lengthy interview published Monday.

Yes, I too would be scared if they come hurtling towards me with an exploding armored truck. But it still doesn’t do anything like the damage that a main battle tank can, and it isn’t that difficult to stop a truck with two tons of explosives on it. You can build a ditch, for example.

Mann also said he had learned private military companies (PMCs) were already in touch with the Iraqi government.

‘Be vigilant’

His comments come as poll data indicates British holidaymakers are less inclined to visit Turkey, which shares a border with war-torn Syria, for fear of coming into contact with the Islamic State.

Concerns were heightened after the Foreign Office advised there was an increased risk of kidnappings, suicide bombing and related terrorist activities in the region, the Express claims.

The Foreign Office statement said: “Media reports suggest that terrorists could target areas throughout Turkey, including Ankara, Istanbul and areas close to the Syrian border.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria.

You should be vigilant at this time,” the statement advised.