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‘King of North Sudan’ Jeremiah Heaton reveals Mike Flynn nearly helped him set up his country

Jeremiah Heaton, a 44-year-old farmer from Virginia, made himself the King of North Sudan in 2015 when he staked claim to a patch of land in the desert between Sudan and Egypt. Now, he tells DailyMail.com about his plans very nearly came true

Jeremiah Heaton, a 44-year-old farmer from Virginia, made himself the King of North Sudan in 2015 when he staked claim to a patch of land in the desert between Sudan and Egypt. Now, he tells DailyMail.com about his plans very nearly came true 

Jeremiah Heaton, a 44-year-old farmer from Virginia, amused the world in 2015 by staking claim to a patch of land in between Sudan and Egypt so that his then seven-year-old daughter could become a real-life princess. 

The land was 795 square miles of empty desert named Bir Tawil, which he rebranded as the Kingdom of North Sudan. 

After scouring the internet for an empty kingdom for Emily, Heaton made the grueling trip to his new land and planted a green and gold flag. He posted a photo of the trip on Facebook to delight his friends and relaxed in the knowledge that he’d lived up to his promise to his daughter. 

Soon, his overindulgent parenting caught headlines around the world. 

He found himself inundated with offers from people who wanted to come and live in his new kingdom which is around the same size as Mauritius, but without electricity, water, roads or any other kind of infrastructure. 

Today, he remains the ‘king’ of the territory – despite never returning after his flag-planting visit – and is the subject of a documentary on iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play and YouTube. 

But speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com, Heaton revealed how his seemingly farfetched plan led him into conversations with Mike Flynn and a gaggle of Chinese investors who he ultimately reported to the FBI. 

He also told how left-wing media labeled him a modern-day colonizer because he was white, despite having support from Egypt and Sudan to launch an economy.

There were early talks for a US airbase that would be used to launch terrorist drone strikes away from the prying eyes of Europe, promises of a solar farm to generate power that he could sell to neighboring African countries. 

He even spoke with Sudanese and Egyptian officials working together to build an economy – and country – seemingly out of thin air. 

Jeremiah Heaton, in 2015, planting his flag in Bir Tawil, an unoccupied and unclaimed 795-square mile patch of land in the middle of the desert between Sudan and Egypt

Jeremiah Heaton, in 2015, planting his flag in Bir Tawil, an unoccupied and unclaimed 795-square mile patch of land in the middle of the desert between Sudan and Egypt 

Bir Tawil is a 795-square mile patch of land between Egypt and Sudan. It's around the same size as Mauritius but without electricity, water, roads or any other kind of infrastructure

Bir Tawil is a 795-square mile patch of land between Egypt and Sudan. It’s around the same size as Mauritius but without electricity, water, roads or any other kind of infrastructure

Despite his grand plans, he never intended to live there, nor does he care now if someone else wishes to make the country viable.

‘I did not have any plans to live in a tent in the desert with my family. I was never going to move my family there and I don’t have a death grip on Bir Tawil,’ he said. 

'Princess' Emily was seven when her father claimed the country in her honor. Now, she is 15 and mortified

‘Princess’ Emily was seven when her father claimed the country in her honor. Now, she is 15 and mortified 

Heaton traveled to China then Bangkok seeking out partners to launch the project and turned down offers from ‘thousands’ of nomads who said they’d give him their life savings in exchange for citizenship. 

‘More than 15,000 people messaged, over the span of time, expressed some sort of interest. 

‘You would not believe the number of people who do not have a home. I had a strong, strong calling from the Kurdish community asking for citizenship in Bir Tawil, people from Palestine, a lot of displaced people from Israel. You have a lot of people without a home who are looking for one.

‘But we never sold citizenships. It’s unconscionable to me to do something like that.’ 

In the end, none of it materialized. The only thing in Bir Tawil now are a few Sudanese gold-miners who he claims root through the land for goods to sell in their own markets every few weeks. 

Heaton remains in Virginia with his wife Kelly and three kids. Emily, now 15, couldn’t care less about royal status. 

It’s an extraordinary story of optimism that despite the world’s sneering, almost made an ordinary man a king.

After planting his flag in the desert in 2015, the world largely lost interest in Heaton’s venture after an initial flurry of interest.

But he privately received offers from Americans and others around the world who were desperate to live in his new kingdom. 

He told DailyMail.com that 15,000 people came forward volunteering to be part of the country’s first population. 

Jeremiah in 'The King of North Sudan' - a documentary on iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play and YouTube.

Jeremiah in ‘The King of North Sudan’ – a documentary on iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play and YouTube.

In the years that followed, he looked in to making the farfetched dream a reality. One of the more surprising signs of encouragement came from General Mike Flynn, Trump’s disgraced former national security adviser. 

Heaton came across Flynn before he became involved in the Trump administration. They met at a conference in Washington DC and were introduced by a mutual friend, Heaton claims.

Among those who gave Heaton encouragement was General Mike Flynn. They had several conversations about a US Airbase in Bir Tawil, but they all fell apart when Flynn was kicked out of Trump's White House

Among those who gave Heaton encouragement was General Mike Flynn. They had several conversations about a US Airbase in Bir Tawil, but they all fell apart when Flynn was kicked out of Trump’s White House 

 ‘After the conference, the host pulled Mike and I together aside and had a pretty in depth conversation. Mike was running a consultancy firm at the time, he was just getting his business started. That’s how the discussion occurred.’

Their discussion that day and in subsequent emails and phone calls centered around the proposal of building a US airbase on Heaton’s land.

‘Africom is not in Africa – it sits in Germany – there’s a need that exists for the US military to have a facility that allows them to operate without some of the conventional blowback that exists when they’re running attacks in the region. 

‘They have a base in Djibouti and it’s a shared commercial airport. 

‘It’s a weird way to conduct business when you’re running drone strikes against terrorists. 

‘Having an area where you can put an airfield like Bir Tawil where there’ no conflicting issues, from a strategic standpoint, it was interesting. 

‘You’ll find a lot of people in the DOD who are visionaries, have big ideas, and this just happened to be something that from a planning standpoint had some legs to it. 

‘I was not totally off base in pursuing a conversation of how this region could be used for something.’ 

When Trump took office and appointed Flynn to a senior position, Heaton became even more excited. 

 ‘Selling the idea and getting through the chain of command under Obama was not ever going to happen but with Trump there was a possibility that it could. I did think we have a shot here’

‘Selling the idea and getting through the chain of command under Obama was not ever going to happen but with Trump there was a possibility that it could. I did think we have a shot here…we’d already had the conversation with him months prior. It was an existing discussion. 

‘We felt once he got settled in, we could circle back to him and revisit the conversation.’  

But Flynn was fired after less than a month in office, killing Heaton’s optimistic hopes of having the project bolstered by the Oval Office. 

Seeking a new partner, he ventured next to China. Ditching the plan for the air base, the next best thing – he thought – might be a solar farm that would generate energy he could sell to Sudan or Egypt and begin to establish an economy. 

The documentary trails Heaton as he travels to China to meet with the investors from the China Arab Peace Commission. 

Jeremiah meeting with Chinese investors in 2016 after his story made headlines around the world. Their plan was to build a solar farm in Bir Tawil where he would generate energy to sell to Egypt and Sudan

Jeremiah meeting with Chinese investors in 2016 after his story made headlines around the world. Their plan was to build a solar farm in Bir Tawil where he would generate energy to sell to Egypt and Sudan

Jeremiah in China with his would-be investors, toasting their plans for the kingdom with warm orange juice

Jeremiah in China with his would-be investors, toasting their plans for the kingdom with warm orange juice 

Jeremiah's negotiations with Thai and Chinese investors fell apart. In the end, he discovered that some of them planned to sell fake passports to his kingdom to unwitting Chinese defectors. He reported the fund to the FBI, and returned home to Virginia

Jeremiah’s negotiations with Thai and Chinese investors fell apart. In the end, he discovered that some of them planned to sell fake passports to his kingdom to unwitting Chinese defectors. He reported the fund to the FBI, and returned home to Virginia 

He appears in the film toasting his potential new business partners with warm orange juice and promising to name roads after them all in the new kingdom if their deal goes through. 

The documentary doesn’t drill down on the details of why those negotiations stalled, but Heaton tells DailyMail.com the conversation simple lost momentum.

‘The timing of the trip caused it to lose momentum. I was there two weeks before the Chinese New Year, they’re down for a month and a half before they come back online,’ he said.

During his time in China he toured a solar farm looking for inspiration to build one of his own. Ultimately, the commission didn’t come through with any kind of investment and Heaton continued his quest, this time hopping to Thailand where he became embedded with a shadowy investment firm.

To Jeremiah, the investors seemed legitimate. 

‘They wanted to be the exclusive development partner for the activities. They wanted to build the solar from, the city. Everything I received suggested they were legitimate.

‘I wish I had kept the documents that they provided to me – they rolled out blue prints, the whole thing had been surveyed. This was not anything that was just thrown together to impress me. This stuff, they had been working on it.’ 

Before long, their real plan was exposed; the Ming Wei investors wanted to sell passports to disenchanted Chinese nationals  desperate for a new country to claim. 

They wanted to rebrand it themselves as ‘The Kingdom of New Legend’ to make it more appealing to Asian nomads who they could flog passports to for $20,000. 

Jeremiah discovered the plan when one of the disgruntled ‘investors’ came clean in a fit of rage at his colleagues.

Jeremiah reported the plan to the FBI and returned to America to his family in Virginia. 

Jeremiah's farm in Virginia. He and his family are now growing hemp - among other projects

Jeremiah’s farm in Virginia. He and his family are now growing hemp – among other projects 

Jeremiah with his wife Kelly, their two sons and his daughter, Emily. He says he hopes the documentary will 'embarrass' the kids for years to come and that he has no regrets

Jeremiah with his wife Kelly, their two sons and his daughter, Emily. He says he hopes the documentary will ’embarrass’ the kids for years to come and that he has no regrets 

In total, he spent $50,000 trying to get the country off the ground, a small dent in the savings he acquired through mining, engineering and real estate projects. 

He doesn’t regret it, but says he has no claim to the land now. 

‘It became a hobby. After the government of Sudan fell apart, I gave up working on it. If you look at the politics of Sudan, things have not settled down the point I’d feel comfortable entering an agreement with the government. In Sudan.. things are not fully stable yet. If you take away the hokey-ness that’s presented in “hey, here’s this rural guy who may or may not be able to do this”… anything in life is challenging.

‘Everything we do is a challenge. Success is never guaranteed. One dynamic in me that’s labelled as being a wide-eyed optimist… I am not deterred by failure. I expect failure – that’s how you learn.

‘There have been other people who came along, an Indian guy who never even went to Bir Tawil. A Russian guy went six months after me… I see him as some guy trying to do the same thing that I want to do. He went and planted the Russian flag.

‘But as far as having any death grip on Bir Tawil? I don’t, it’s an empty patch of desert. Right now, it’s not front and center. The only thing that’s happening is the documentary being released. It is a product of Hollywood, from a pool of film, for which you could extrapolate anything.’ 

As for Princess Emily, she too has moved on.

‘It was just a phase. It was cool for a year or two. She is a very well grounded teenager focused on school and trying to figure out where to go to college. We’re blessed to have three wonderful children. We’re very blessed to have children that are positively engaged in the world that they live in.

‘I hope the documentary provides them with years of embarrassment!’ 

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