Sunday, August 24, 2014

Peter Theo Curtis, Kidnapped American Journalist, Freed in Syria (VIDEO)

Al-Nusra Front released him.

At the Boston Globe, "American man with Mass. ties released in Syria":

An American journalist and author with Boston-area ties has been freed by his Al Qaeda-affiliated captors after nearly two years of imprisonment in Syria.

Peter Theo Curtis, 45, is on his way home after being released by the Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusrah and handed over to United Nations forces in an Israeli-occupied village in the Golan Heights, according to statements from the UN, State Department, and family members.

The UN said on its website that Curtis was handed over to UN peacekeepers around 6:40 p.m. local time Sunday. He received a medical check-up, and was then transferred to US government representatives, the statement said.

In a detailed statement released through the State Department, members of Curtis’s family expressed elation and relief.

“We are so relieved that Theo is healthy and safe and that he is finally headed home after his ordeal,” Theo’s mother, Cambridge resident Nancy Curtis, said in the statement. “My heart is full at the extraordinary, dedicated, incredible people, too many to name individually, who have become my friends and have tirelessly helped us over these many months. Please know that we will be eternally grateful.”

Curtis’s family expressed gratitude to the US and Qatari governments for helping to negotiate his release, and said they had been told the negotiations proceeded on a humanitarian basis and did not involve the payment of a ransom. The US, along with the United Kingdom, has a policy barring the payment of ransoms to free its citizens who are being held abroad.

Nancy Curtis said she was “deeply saddened” by the death of James Foley, a New Hampshire journalist whose beheading by a fighter for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, was depicted in a graphic video released this week.

Nancy Curtis befriended Foley’s mother, Diane Foley, while their two sons were held captive for long stretches by separate groups, she said. She called for the release of others still imprisoned by Islamic militant groups in the Middle East.

ISIS, a radical Islamist group that blossomed in the chaos of Syria’s multi-front civil war, said Foley’s killing was in retaliation for US airstrikes on its fighters in Northern Iraq, where it has captured large swaths of territory in an attempt to establish a conservative caliphate state.