SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: November 11, 2015

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Mosul

Region & Country:Western Asia | Iraq

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 11, 2015, Professor Abdullah Sultan al-Ubaidi, chairman of the physics department at the University of Mosul, was reportedly executed by members of ISIS in a public square in the city of Mosul. ISIS members had reportedly kidnapped Professor al-Ubaidi in August 2015, demanding that he help them build a biological weapon to be used against Iraqi forces.  After he refused over the course of some three months to assist them, ISIS fighters shot Professor al-Ubaidi in a public square in the city’s center.  

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the kidnapping and execution of a scholar in retaliation for his refusal to assist in the design of a biological weapon.  In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and institutional autonomy. State officials have a responsibility to ensure the security of higher education communities, to prevent future attacks, and to hold perpetrators of violent attacks accountable.