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.