December 18, 2018
A chemistry professor at Swedish Lund University dispatched a team of mercenaries into an Islamic State (also known as IS, Isis or Daesh) war zone to free one of her doctoral students and his family.
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 and his family were, he told her, hiding out in a disused bleach factory, with the sounds of gunshots from Isis warriors roaming the town reverberating around them. Jumaah, who is from Iraq, is a member of the ethno-religious group Yazidi hated by Isis.
Over a few days of intense activity, a hired a security company which then arranged the rescue operation. 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.
“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 family has almost finished paying the university back for the rescue operation. “It was a unique event. As far as I know no other university has ever been involved in anything like it,” Gustafson said.