The Hollywood-worthy story of how a chemistry professor hired mercenaries to free her student from ISIS war zone

Published By ITCT News Desk On : December 14, 2018
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Firas Jumaah and his former PHD supervisor Charlotta Turner. Photo: Kennet Ruona Credit: The Local

A chemistry professor at Sweden’s Lund University dispatched a team of mercenaries into an Islamic State (IS/ISIS) war zone to free one of her doctoral students and his family, The Local reported on Thursday.

Charlotta Turner, professor in Analytical Chemistry, received a text message from her student Firas Jumaah in 2014 telling her to to assume he would not finish his thesis if he had not returned within a week. He said he and his family were hiding from Islamic State fighters. Jumaah, a member of the Yazidi ethnic minority group hated by the Islamic State, had entered the war zone voluntarily after learning from his wife that Islamic State fighters had captured the village next door.

Upon learning her student was in danger, Turner contacted Lund’s then security chief, who hired a security company to arrange what ended up being a successful rescue mission for Jumaah and his wife and two children.

A few days later two Landcruisers carrying four heavily-armed mercenaries roared into the area where Jumaah was hiding, and sped him away to Erbil Airport together with his wife and two small children.

“It was a unique event. As far as I know no other university has ever been involved in anything like it,” said the security chief, Per Gustafson.

“I had no hope then at all,” Jumaah told Lund’s University Magazine LUM. “I was desperate. I just wanted to tell my supervisor what was happening. I had no idea that a professor would be able to do anything for us.”

“What was happening was completely unacceptable,” she told LUM. “I got so angry that IS was pushing itself into our world, exposing my doctoral student and his family to this, and disrupting the research.”

“I have never felt so privileged, so VIP,” Jumaah told LUM. “But at the same time I felt like a coward as I left my mother and sisters behind me.”
Luckily the rest of his family survived Isis occupation, while Jumaah back in Sweden completed his PhD and now works for a pharmaceuticals company in Malmö, The Local reported. The family has almost finished paying the university back for the rescue operation.


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