Journalist Held Hostage in Syria Is Back in the U.S.

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Photo: Curtis family photo.

Peter Theo Curtis, a 45-year-old American journalist held hostage in Syria since October 2012, was finally reunited with his family on Tuesday night. Curtis was released by Al Nusra Front, the Syria rebel group with ties to Al Qaeda, on Sunday after the government of Qatar brokered his release. Curtis met his mother, Nancy Curtis, in Boston's Logan International Airport after flying out of Tel Aviv and catching a connecting flight in Newark. "I have been so touched and moved, beyond all words, by the people who have come up to me today — strangers on the airplane, the flight attendants and, most of all, my family to say welcome home," he said in a statement.

The group had demanded a ransom, and when Nancy Curtis traveled to Istanbul in January to discuss her son's release, an intermediary proposed a swap for two jihadists' wives, who are being held in an Iraqi prison. The terms of Curtis's release are unclear, but the Obama administration said it didn't pay any ransom, and asked Qatar not to pay either. According to Nancy Curtis, the family was "repeatedly told by representatives of the Qatari government that they were mediating for Theo's release on a humanitarian basis without the payment of money."

On Tuesday night, Nancy Curtis said she was "overwhelmed with relief that this day has come and my son is standing beside me." However, she said she was thinking of the other kidnapped Americans and their loved ones, especially after getting to know the family of slain journalist James Foley. "This is a sober occasion because of the events of the past week," she added. "My heart goes out to the other families who are suffering."