Shahristani, who has a doctorate in nuclear chemistry from the University of Toronto, served as chief scientific adviser to Iraq's atomic energy commission until 1979, when Hussein became president. When he refused to shift from nuclear energy to nuclear weaponry, he was jailed. For most of a decade, he was in Abu Ghraib prison, much of it in solitary confinement. He escaped in 1991 and fled with his wife and three children to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq and, eventually, Iran, where he worked with Iraqi refugees. He later moved to Britain, where he was a visiting university professor.
But unlike other exiles, Shahristani was not active in opposition parties, choosing instead to focus on humanitarian aid projects. He does, however, have a critical connection: He is close to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the country's most powerful Shiite cleric, whose support is essential for the viability of an interim government.
Shahristani, who has described himself as an adviser to Sistani, said he has met with the ayatollah several times since the fall of Hussein's government. Shahristani said Sistani has played a 'very, very constructive' role in Iraq over the past year. Iraqi officials familiar with Brahimi's mission said Shahristani's lack of political affiliation could be an asset, allowing him to serve as a bridge between various factions.
Shahristani crossed into Iraq two days before Hussein fell to deliver aid to the city of Karbala. Since then, he has divided his time between Karbala and the southern port of Basra, working on humanitarian projects in both places.
If this guy is for real, maybe he could run for President in the US when he's finished his stint in Iraq.
If he does take the job from hell, Bush should transfer his secret service detail to Shahristani and make do with second stringers.
Is it only from Hell that heroes come?