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Swedish University organized a special operation to rescue his graduate student from the ISIS-occupied zone in Iraq 

The graduate student was afraid that he would not have time to finish his thesis.

Fighters of the Kurdish Peshmerga armed formation during the battle with the Yezidis over the Sinjar Range in 2015 
Photo: Bram Jansse / AP / TT

In 2014, a professor of analytical chemistry at Lund University in Sweden organized a militarized operation to rescue his graduate student from Iraq. He and his family were evacuated from the zone occupied by the Islamic State terrorist organization. The participants of the story kept it secret until 2018, until they told about what happened to the journal of the University of Lund.

In 2014 (the exact date was not disclosed), Charlotta Turner, a professor of analytical chemistry, received a text message from her graduate student Firas Jumaah, a native of Iraq. Juma wrote that he was hiding with his family in the premises of an abandoned bleach factory. They lacked food and water, and shots from the outside were heard from ISIS fighters who surrounded the town in which they were located.

The graduate student was afraid that he would not return within the next week – and this would jeopardize his dissertation. According to him, he did not know what to do, and just wanted to at least inform Turner about what was happening. In addition, Juma belonged to the Yezidi ethno-religious group, which since 2014 has been subjected to genocide by the Islamic State.

Firas Juma and Charlotte Turner Photo: Kenneth Ruona, The Local
Firas Juma and Charlotte Turner
Photo: Kenneth Ruona, The Local

Juma went to Iraq for his wife, who was there. Once, in a panic, she contacted her husband and told that the terrorists from the IG seized the neighboring village, killing all the men in it and taking the women into slavery. A graduate student quit his job at a university laboratory and went home on the very first flight, but did not manage to take out his relatives, being surrounded.

Turner admitted to journalists: the first thing she felt when she received a message from Juma was anger.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]What happened was completely unacceptable. I was extremely angry at the fact that ISIS is trying to invade our world, endangering my graduate student and his family, disrupting our research.[/perfectpullquote]
Charlotte turner
Professor at Lund University

The professor received approval from the university management and turned for help to Per Gustafson, the then head of the institution’s security unit, Per Gustafson. After several days of searching, Gustafson hired a private military company, which agreed to conduct a rescue operation.

Per Gustafson 
Photo: Robert Olsson

Soon after, four heavily armed PMC fighters on two off-road vehicles arrived in the area where Juma was hiding. They evacuated him along with his wife and two young children, escorting him to the airport in Erbil. According to the graduate student, he was pleased with this outcome, but he felt like a coward – his mother, brothers and sisters remained in the occupied zone.

Using anonymous air tickets, Juma and his family got to Sweden, where the university helped them with their accommodation and employment. Subsequently, a graduate student defended his thesis and got a job at a pharmaceutical company in Malmo. His family almost completely repaid the debt to the university for payment of services of PMCs, and the relatives remaining in Iraq managed to successfully survive the occupation of the IG.

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