An American journalist held for nearly two years by militants linked to Al-Qaeda in Syria returned to the United States late Tuesday, two days after Qatar negotiated his release, his family said.
Peter Theo Curtis, 45, was reunited with his mother Nancy Curtis at Boston Logan International Airport after flying from Tel Aviv to Newark, New Jersey.
Curtis’s family has said the Qatari government had repeatedly reassured them that it had not won his freedom through a cash payment, amid a growing debate over the US policy of refusing to pay ransoms to extremist groups.
Washington sticks to a policy of never paying ransoms, saying that doing so would endanger Americans all over the world.
The freelance journalist and author was released on Sunday, less than a week after grisly footage emerged of the execution of another US hostage, journalist James Foley, by the Islamic State — a separate group from the one that held Curtis.
– ‘Overwhelmed with relief’ –
Curtis was captured shortly before he crossed into Syria in October 2012 and was held by the Al-Qaeda splinter group known as Al-Nusra front, according to his family.
During his captivity, media outlets had refrained from using Curtis’s name at the request of the family.
After his return to the United States, the family requested privacy.
Curtis was handed over to UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights late Sunday and taken to Tel Aviv by US government officials.
The Islamic State and Al-Nusra are rooted in Al-Qaeda in Iraq but the two groups have been openly at war with each other in Syria since early this year.