Freed Journalist Held Captive In Syria For Two Years Comes Home to Boston
It had been a long time since they had seen one another in person, but on Tuesday evening Peter Theo Curtis, a journalist who was captured in Syria and held by Islamic militants for two years, embraced his mother on Boston soil.
After a flight from Tel Aviv to the Newark Liberty International Airport, Curtis took a shorter trip to Logan Airport, where his mother, Cambridge resident Nancy Curtis, met him.
In a statement released by a family spokesperson, Curtis said he was “touched and moved” by the amount of people who welcomed him home after two years in captivity in Syria, where Nusra Front, a group with ties to Al Qaeda, kept Curtis locked away.
From his mother’s house in Cambridge Wednesday morning, just hours after his arrival back in Boston, Curtis expressed his gratitude to both the people who worked tirelessly over the last 22 months to try and free him from Syria and those who so graciously welcomed him home.
“I had no idea when when I was in prison that so much effort was being expended on my behalf,” he said in his brief, emotional appearance. “I am overwhelmed with emotion. And one other thing—[the fact] that total strangers have been coming up to me and saying, ‘we’re glad you’re home,’ ‘welcome home,’ ‘we’re glad you’re safe’…to all of those people I say a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Curtis said he wasn’t ready to talk about his story just yet, and needed first to spend time bonding with his mother and family.
Curtis was handed over to peacekeepers from the United Nations Sunday night before being transferred to U.S. officials to begin his journey back to his homeland.
Curtis’ mother, Nancy, said she was overwhelmed with relief thinking about her son finally being able to stand beside here after two harrowing years of wondering if he was alive, and later negotiating with terrorists for his safe release.
In a statement earlier this week, when news broke that Curtis was freed from captivity unharmed, Secretary of State John Kerry, who worked with the family to ensure Curtis’ freedom, said he was pleased he was finally returning home.
“Theo’s mother, whom we’ve known from Massachusetts and with whom we’ve worked during this horrific period, simply refused to give up and has worked indefatigably to keep hope alive that this day could be a reality. Over these last two years, the United States reached out to more than two dozen countries asking for urgent help from anyone who might have tools, influence, or leverage to help secure Theo’s release and the release of any Americans held hostage in Syria,” said Kerry.
While Nancy was happy to have her son back in the U.S. unharmed, she called the reunion a “sober occasion” because of the recent execution of a second freelance journalist, James Foley, who was brutally killed by a separate organization of Islamic extremists. Foley, who went missing in Syria around the same time as Curtis, was murdered by members of the Islamic State.
Kerry said “every waking hour” the U.S. continues to use every diplomatic, intelligence, and military tool at their disposal to find and bring home other Americans who are still being held hostage by militants.
Since Curtis’ arrival in Boston, the family has asked for privacy as they get reacquainted.