Mass. journalist freed in Syria; British say they may have ID of Foley killer
Kidnappers in Syria have freed an American writer missing since 2012, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday, following what Qatari-owned TV station Al Jazeera said were efforts by the Gulf Arab state to win his release.
Kerry said in a statement announcing the release of Peter Theo Curtis that the United States was using “every diplomatic, intelligence and military tool” at its disposal to secure the release of other Americans held hostage in Syria.
Theo’s mother, Nancy Curtis, of Cambridge, Mass., released this statement:
“Peter Theo Curtis, a published author and freelance journalist from Boston and Vermont who writes under the name Theo Padnos, was released today after more than 22 months in captivity in Syria. The Curtis family is deeply grateful to the governments of the United States and Qatar and to the many individuals, private and public, who helped negotiate the release of our son, brother and cousin.
“My heart is full at the extraordinary, dedicated, incredible people, too many to name individually, who have become my friends and have tirelessly helped us over these many months,” Curtis said. “Please know that we will be eternally grateful.”
Nancy Curtis asked for privacy in the aftermath of her son’s release. .
“We are so relieved that Theo is healthy and safe and that he is finally headed home after his ordeal, but we are also deeply saddened by the terrible, unjustified killing last week of his fellow journalist, Jim Foley, at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS,” Nancy said.
“I have gotten to know the Foley family during these many long months of uncertainty and worry, and have seen Diane Foley’s bravery and her heroic efforts firsthand, efforts that helped rally the spirits of the families of all the journalists and others being held captive. We appeal to the captors of the remaining hostages to release them in the same humanitarian spirit that prompted Theo’s release. While the family is not privy to the exact terms that were negotiated, we were 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,” Nancy Curtis said.
She added: “My entire focus right now is on helping the other families of those still being held in Syria, and on taking care of my son.”
The family believes that Theo, 45, was captured shortly after he crossed into Syria in October 2012 and has been held since then by the militant group Jabhat al-Nusra or by splinter groups allied with Jabhat al-Nusra.
“Theo has a deep concern and regard for the people of Syria, which is why he returned during the war. He wanted to help others and to give meaning and to bear witness to their struggles,” Nancy added. “I am very fortunate that I do not have to tell his whole story. He eventually will be able to do so himself.”
Foley killer ID?
Intelligence officials are close to determining the identity of the Islamic State militant with a British accent who killed Foley, the British ambassador to the United States said Sunday.
“We’re not in a position to say exactly who this is,” Ambassador Peter Westmacott said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think we are close.”
Experts in voice recognition are working to figure out the name of the Islamic State executioner who beheaded Foley and threatened to kill another American journalist, apparently in retribution for a U.S. bombing campaign against the group’s forces in Iraq.