Few students can name a professor willing to go the extra mile to ensure their students finish their studies. Fewer still can say their teacher hired an elite team of mercenaries to save you so you can finish your Ph.D. But a chemistry professor from Sweden did exactly that to rescue a student and his family from ISIS in Iraq. Back in 2014, Charlotta Turner, professor in Analytical Chemistry, decided to act after receiving a text message from her student, Firas Jumaah, telling her to assume he would not finish his thesis if he did not return within a week, Lund University’s magazine LUM reported.
Jumaah told,Firas Jumaah was stuck in an Iraqi town being surrounded and shelled by Islamic State militants. Jumaah and his family were particularly in danger because they are part of the Yazidi ethnoreligious group that was subject to brutal treatment by ISIS, who often tortured or murdered the men and sold women into sex slavery. He voluntarily entered the war zone after his wife in the area told him that ISIS had taken over a nearby village, massacring the men and enslaving women.
The threat of danger prompted the professor to take matters into her own hands and contact the university’s then-security chief Per Gustafson. Following a few days of preparations, Gustafson hired a private security company, which then moved into the war zone in two Landcruisers with four heavily-armed mercenaries and one goal: rescue Jumaah and his family. After finding Jumaah in hiding, they sped to an airport in Erbil Airport, an airport in Iraqi Kurdistan, safely escaping the mortal danger.
“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, according to the magazine, the rest of Jumaah’s family survived the occupation of ISIS, which has since been decimated in the region thanks to pushback by the Kurdish forces aided by Western countries. He successfully completed his Ph.D. and works at a pharmaceutical company in Malmö. The family also almost paid off the university for the mercenaries they hired.