US journalist Theo Curtis, an American who disappeared two years ago in Turkey while en route to Syria, has been freed and turned over the UN officials, reports Reuters news service on Aug. 24. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the US had successfully negotiated Curtis’ freedom, less than a week after fellow US journalist James Foley was executed by Islamic state militants.
Kerry said “every diplomatic, intelligence and military tool” will be used to secure the release of other Americans held captive in Syria.
“Particularly after a week marked by unspeakable tragedy, we are all relieved and grateful knowing that Theo Curtis is coming home after so much time held in the clutches of [the militant group al-Nusrah Front],” Kerry said.
Writes Reuters: “A Qatari source told Reuters Curtis had been handed over to a representative of the United Nations in Syria.Qatari intelligence agencies were behind the release of the American journalist in Syria. Qatar, like many countries, looks to free those in captive for humanitarian reasons, the source added.”
White House national security adviser Susan Rice said Curtis is out of Syria today and that he is expected to be "reunited with his family shortly," Rice said.
The killing of Foley and subsequent posting of his murder to YouTube, coupled with the threat by ISIS to kill another American journalist – Steven Sotloff – received immediate and widespread condemnation from the West.
“Today, the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group, ISIL,” Obama said last week, saying the nation was “heartbroken” and condemning the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, which he called a “cancer,” for “an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world.”
Obama said Foley was a man “who courageously told the stories of his fellow human beings.”
“His life stands in stark contrast to his killers,” Obama said. “ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day.”
“Their ideology is bankrupt,” he added. “People like this ultimately fail. They fail because the future’s won by those who build and not destroy. The world is shaped by people like Jim Foley.”
Says aljazeera.com: “Footage of the American Theo Curtis was released on June 30, showing a disheveled Curtis with long hair and beard, but appearing to be in good health. Speaking in a video obtained by Al Jazeera, Curtis read from a prepared script stating his name and profession, saying he was a journalist from Boston, Massachusetts.”