Thomas Schmidinger teaches at the University of Vienna in Austria and is both secretary-general of the Austrian Society for the Promotion of Kurdology and coeditor of the Vienna Kurdish Studies Yearbook.
He is an expert on Syria, Iraq, and Iran and the author of a number of books on migration, cultural integration, and the Middle East, several of which have been translated by U.S. publishers.
Dr. Schmidinger was invited by multiple U.S. Universities, institutions, and bookstores to give a series of lectures this September on his newest book, The Battle for the Mountain of the Kurds: Self-Determination and Ethnic Cleansing in the Afrin Region of Rojava (PM Press, 2019). The organizers and publishers worked for months on the book tour, and he had all travel plans and papers in order. Everything was set, or so it seemed.
When Dr. Schmidinger arrived at the boarding area on Thursday September 12th, 2019 for the connecting flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis, where he previously spent a year as a research fellow at the University of Minnesota, he was detained and questioned by airline security about his research in Syria, Iraq, and Iran and his travels to these countries. The security personnel expressed their assurances that he would be allowed to board, but they needed to get the go-ahead from Washington, D.C. Then, the unexpected happened.