The American journalist Peter Theo Curtis returned home on Tuesday night after two years of captivity in Syria at the hands of a militia linked to Al Qaeda, and after his release became known last Sunday, his family said in statement picked up by local media. Curtis, 45, flew from Tel Aviv (Israel) to Newark (New Jersey, USA) and then moved to Boston, where he was reunited with his mother, Nancy Curtis, reports the New York Times.
“I will be eternally indebted to American officials who have worked in my case. And I want to especially thank the Government of Qatar to intervene for me,” said the journalist quoted Curtis as the statement. The mother of the journalist, who said Sunday that the Qatar government negotiated for his release on “humanitarian ” reasons, said that although his family ” has not been aware of the exact terms negotiated the Qataris representatives were told repeatedly that mediate for the release based on humanitarian Theo without payment of money reasons, “says Nancy Curtis in the statement.
Curtis was given to peacekeepers of the UN in the town of Al Rafid in the Syrian province of Quneitra in the Golan Heights, which border Israel. The journalist was kidnapped in October 2012, when he was planning to enter Syria from the Turkish city of Antaquia in Hatay province where many reporters and begin their journey to the Syrian -controlled north and jihadist rebel forces. The New York Times specifies that no news of his whereabouts or condition until another American journalist, Matthew Schrier, escaped from captivity in July 2013 Schrier, who had shared with Curtis cell in Aleppo, confirmed he was still alive and a prisoner of Jabhat to Nusra, a militia linked to Al Qaeda.
After the news of his release on Sunday, Secretary of State of the United States, John Kerry, said the relief is even greater, ” especially after a week marked by unspeakable tragedy,” referring to the brutal murder of another American journalist James Foley, like Curtis kidnapped two years ago in Syria. However Foley was in the hands of the extremist group Islamic State (EI), which has forsworn Al Qaeda, which itself is still linking to Nusra Jabhat, the Islamist militia that kidnapped Curtis.
After the execution of Foley, USA reiterated its position not to ” compromise” with the kidnappers as a ransom, as with the United Kingdom is one of the countries that refuse to pay. Both have negotiated with extremist groups -the last test is the exchange of Taliban prisoners by American Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl-, but do not cross the line of bailouts. While European governments deny ransom payments, an investigation conducted by The New York Times has discovered that Al Qaeda and its affiliates have obtained at least 94 million euros in exchange for kidnapped since 2008 only 49 million last year.