On Sunday, an American freelance journalist and author was released from Syria after being held hostage for the past 2 years. Peter Theo Curtis, 45 years old, was held hostage for nearly two years by the terror group Jabhat Al-Nusrah in Syria. The terror group is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda. The release comes only days after the execution of James Foley by the terror group ISIS, in Iraq. The Islamic State has also threatened to kill another American hostage Steven Sotloff, if the United States do not call off its airstrike's in Iraq.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry said in a statement, “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 Jabhat al-Nusra.” The Obama administration said Curtis is now safely outside of Syria, but provided no details about the circumstances of his abduction or his release. The family of Curtis though, stated the tiny nation of Qatar was involved in the release, which was carried out on a humanitarian basis without ransom. According to the United Nations, the U.N it helped with the release of Curtis to U.N. peacekeepers in a village in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights and that Curtis was released to American authorities after a medical checkup.
According to the family of Curtis, their investigation of the kidnapping, Curtis, that he crossed into Syria with a guide who then betrayed by him, turning over Mr. Curtis to an extremist group, Ahrar al-Sham, which later gave him to the Nusra Front. On July 29, 2013, a cellmate of Curtis escaped through a hole in their cell. American journalist, Matthew Schrier, after escaping described horrendous conditions for the prisoners and the torture they endured. The torture included beatings on the soles of his feet so severe that afterward the prisoners would have to be dragged back to their cells unable to walk. According to the New York Times, In January of this year, the mother of Curtis received ransom demands from the terror group. The ransom demands started at about 3 million dollars and increased to 25 million. The United States has a strict no negation for ransoms with terror groups.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 67 journalists have been killed in Syria since the start of the uprising, highlighting the risks of reporting from the country. The group also reports that dozens of journalists covering the civil war have been seized since the conflict began in March 2011, with many others still missing