A freelance journalist from the U.S., who was held in captivity for close to two years by a branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, was freed Sunday and handed over to peacekeepers from the United Nations somewhere in the Golan Heights. The peacekeepers then released the journalists to government officials from the U.S.
Peter Theo Curtis, who is from Boston and 45, was abducted close to the border between Syria and Turkey in October of 2012. He was held for that period by Nusra Front, which has broken form the Islamic State, the more radical arm.
James Foley another journalist from the U.S. was kidnapped and last week beheaded by the Islamic State after two years in captivity.
In a prepared statement, the U.N. confirmed that Curtis was transferred to peacekeeping forces of the U.N. in the village of Al Rafid in the Golan Heights that straddles Israel and Syria.
After being given a medical checkup, Curtis was handed to a U.S. representative, read the statement.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson said Curtis was then transported to Tel Aviv.
The extended family of Curtis released a prepared statement that thanked the governments of Qatar and the United States and the individuals both public and private who helped with the negotiation to release our son and brother.
The mother of Curtis, Nancy Curtis, said in the statement that her son’s release was secured without the payment of a ransom, one of the biggest reasons for these types of abductions by Islamic State, Nusra Front and other affiliated groups.
It is uncertain, what if anything the captors of Curtis received to release him.
While the exact terms of the release of Curtis were not given to the family, Curtis said that she was told repeatedly by the government of Qatar that had been mediating her son’s release with no money involved but as a humanitarian gesture.
President Barack Obama as well as John Kerry the Secretary of State welcomed the positive news that came less than one week after Foley was beheaded which focused the attention of the world on how the White House would confront ascendance of Islamic militancy particularly the Islamic State in the Middle East.