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, who is of Yazidi origin, went to Iraq voluntarily to reunite with his family after receiving a message from his wife that Daesh forces had invaded the nearby village, killed all the men and took the women into slavery.
“My wife was totally panicking. Everyone was shocked at how IS (Daesh)* were behaving,” he said. “I took the first plane there to be with them. What sort of life would I have if anything had happened to them there?”
Jumaah sent a message to Professor Turner, explaining what happened. Unexpectedly for him, Turner decided to act.
"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.”
“It was almost as if he'd been waiting for this kind of mission," Turner said. "Per Gustafson said that we had a transport and security deal which stretched over the whole world.”
A few days later two Land Cruisers carrying four heavily-armed mercenaries roared into the vicinity of an abandoned bleach factory where Jumaah was hiding, and sped him away to Erbil Airport together with his wife and two small children.
“I have friends who later thought I'm a secret agent, they cannot believe that a professor in Lund had the power to pick up a regular doctoral student," Jumaah said.
The rest of family survived the Daesh occupation, while Jumaah completed his PhD back in Sweden. He and his family now live in Malmö. The family has almost finished paying the university back for the rescue operation.
*Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/Islamic State/IS), a terrorist group banned in Russia and a wide number of other countries.