News / USA

US Journalist Kidnapped in Syria Returns Home

  • Peter Theo Curtis walks toward reporters to read a statement outside his mother's home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Aug. 27, 2014. 
  • Peter Theo Curtis meets with reporters outside his mother's home in Cambridge, Massachusetts,  Aug. 27, 2014. 
  • Peter Theo Curtis, 45, stands outside his mother's home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Curtis spent two years as a captive of al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaida in Syria,  Aug. 27, 2014.
  • Peter Theo Curtis, who was released on Sunday, Aug. 24  after spending two years as a captive of insurgents in Syria, stands outside his mother's home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Aug. 27, 2014.
  • Viva Hardigg, cousin of American journalist Peter Theo Curtis, talks to reporters outside the home of Curtis' mother in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Aug. 25, 2014.
  • Nancy Curtis, mother of American journalist Peter Theo Curtis, briefly answers reporters' questions outside her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Aug. 25, 2014.
  • This image, taken from undated video obtained by The Associated Press, is believed to be Peter Theo Curtis, a U.S. citizen held hostage by an al-Qaida-linked group in Syria, as he delivers a statement.
US Journalist Kidnapped in Syria Returns Home
Reuters

An American writer released this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria is doing well and is excited to be free, his mother said on
Tuesday.

"In the days following my release on Sunday, I have learned bit-by-bit that many people have been working on my release.  I had no idea," Peter Theo Curtis, 45, told reporters outside his mother's home in Cambridge, a Boston suburb.

"I am overhwlemed with emotional and that total strangers have been coming up to me.  How good the American people are.  Huge thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Grateful for this interest.  Have to bond with my family.  In the future I will respond to your emails.," he added.  "I  want to help you and I will respond but I can't do it now."

Curtis arrived in the United States late on Tuesday. He landed in Newark on a flight from Tel Aviv and then flew on to Boston, where he was greeted by his mother, the New York Times reported, citing a family statement.

Curtis went missing in 2012 and was held by Nusra Front, al-Qaida's official wing in Syria, whose rivals, the militant group Islamic State, last week killed journalist James Foley. Curtis was released on Sunday.

"He was so excited," his mother, Nancy Curtis, told ABC News in an interview taped Monday, after his release. She said Curtis was staying in a hotel and even having a beer before heading home.

After hearing from her son, Curtis said she immediately wrote to Foley's mother, Diane. Last week, Islamic State released a video showing his beheading and threatening to kill another American journalist being held hostage, Steven Sotloff.

"We've been through so much together, and I didn't want her to hear it from the media first," Curtis said of her son's release, speaking from Cambridge, Massachusetts, on ABC's "Good Morning America" program.

About a month ago, Curtis said the FBI had received a frightening video of her son pleading for his life and saying he had just three days left to live. She has not watched the video, she added.

Curtis' father, Michael Padnos, said the search for his son was like "hunting for bats in a dark, black cave" because he could not communicate with him, according to CBS News.

"It felt as if there was a huge weight lifted from my shoulders," he said of his son's release, speaking from France in an interview that aired on "CBS This Morning."

The comments come against the backdrop of efforts to free other U.S. hostages in Syria. On Monday, sources familiar with the matter said Qatar, whose diplomacy helped free Curtis, is working to help free four other Americans held hostage in Syria by various armed groups.

At the same time, the United States is preparing military options, including surveillance flights, to pressure Islamic State in Syria, U.S. officials say.

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