Aljazeera's correspondent in Baghdad Atwar Bahjat says the latest numbers circulating inside the community suggest 250 Iraqi scientists have either been killed or kidnapped by organised gangs, while others have been arrested by US occupation authorities.

Medical doctors are the most targeted group because of their relatively good financial status.

Negligence

Many of Iraq's most notable medical doctors have been kidnapped for a ransom in recent weeks, including Dr Abd Al-Hadi al-Khalili, Sarmad al-Fahad and Riyadh al-Sakini, while others have been threatened with the kidnapping of family members.

Dr al-Khalili's car was stolen. Days later he was kidnapped. His family underwent difficult negotiations with the kidnappers, before managing to release him for three thousands dollars. 

Dr al-Basri's pistol beside his
medical equipment

Iraqi physicians have accused the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) of neglecting the safety of Iraqi's and Iraq's elite in particular.

The Iraqi Physicians Union recently staged sit-ins and strikes, to protest at the increase in crime against them.

Personal responsibility

The Union issued a statement saying as it was not aware of the body responsible for providing security to Iraqis, it called on its members to take responsibility for their individual and families' safety.

Dr Ibrahim al-Basri said his family was a victim of kidnapping and the Iraqi authorities could do nothing to protect them.

His son was kidnapped and a bomb was thrown at his house by unknown assailants. He now keeps a pistol next to his medical instruments.

"My son Yazan was kidnapped. The kidnapper's identity, address and thuraya number (satellite phone) is known" al-Basri said.

"This information was submitted to the former Interior Minister … But I had to pay to get my son back."

Dr Huda al-Nuaymi insists on
revealing occupiers' wrongdoings 

Dr Huda al-Nuaymi, head of the Palestinian Studies Centre in Baghdad University says "It is a state of lawlessness …

"Kidnappers are safe; they do not even have to hide their identity …

"Imagine, they come to the victim's family and negotiate the price with ease." 

Politically motivated

Some Iraqi groups believe the kidnapping and terrorising of Iraqi intellectuals is not simply for the ransom, but is an attempt to force Iraq's intelligensia out of their country.

"If we look at the way that these crimes against intellectuals are carried out, we see that the perpetrators are not just after money.

"Victims are receiving threats of future abuse if they do not take necessary steps, which is to leave Iraq" says Dr Muthana Harith al-Dhari, spokesman of the Association of Muslim Scholars.

The Association has accused organised groups of launching a reign of terror against Iraqi intellectuals and recently started to organise a representative body to protect them.

"It is well organised crime, because some of the victims were abducted for their political views. Many Iraqi intellectuals have left the country after receiving threats from powerful political parties.

"I myself, because I openly criticise the occupation, have received a threat from unknown individuals. They have threatened to throw me from the roof of my university." Dr Huda said.