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Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants expresses thanks outside Cambridge home

Peter Theo Curtis makes a statement to the media Wednesday. Photo: Getty Peter Theo Curtis makes a statement to the media Wednesday.
Photo: Getty

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of the gratitude he has to everyone who aided in his release.

Peter Theo Curtis, 45, went missing in 2012 and was held by Nusra Front, al Qaeda's official wing in Syria, whose rivals, the militant group Islamic State, last week killed journalist James Foley. Curtis was released on Sunday, and returned to his mother's home on Parker Streetlate Tuesday.

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"I suddenly remember how good the American people are and what kindness they have in their hearts," said Curtis. "In the days following my release Sunday I learned bit by bit there have been hundreds of people... working on my release. I had no idea when I was in prison that so much effort was being expended on my behalf. Now that I've found out I'm just overwhelmed with emotion," said Curtis.

Sporting casual clothes and a shoulder-lenth curly ponytail, Curtis told media that he wasn't ready for a question and answer session, but promised to be present in future interviews. For now, Curtis said, he needed to bond with his mother and his family.

"Now, I'm so grateful that you are expressing all this interest in me," said Curtis, drawing a chuckle from reporters... "I'm one of you and I know what you're going through. I will be there and I will respond [eventually]."

His mother, Nancy Curtis, told ABC News in an interview taped on Monday that Curtis was excited to be coming home. The two spoke briefly after his release, she said, adding that Curtis was staying in a hotel and even having a beer before heading home.

Curtis on Tuesday landed in Newark on a flight from Tel Aviv and then flew on to Boston, where he was greeted by his mother, the New York Times reported, citing a family statement.

After hearing from her son, Curtis said she immediately wrote to Foley's mother, Diane. Last week, Islamic State released a video showing his beheading and threatening to kill another American journalist being held hostage, Steven Sotloff.

"We've been through so much together, and I didn't want her to hear it from the media first," Curtis said of her son's release, speaking from Cambridge, Massachusetts, on ABC's "Good Morning America" program.

About a month ago, Curtis said the FBI had received a frightening video of her son pleading for his life and saying he had just three days left to live. She has not watched the video, she added.

Curtis' father, Michael Padnos, said the search for his son was like "hunting for bats in a dark, black cave" because he could not communicate with him, according to CBS News.

"It felt as if there was a huge weight lifted from my shoulders," he said of his son's release, speaking from France in an interview that aired on "CBS This Morning."

The comments come against the backdrop of efforts to free other U.S. hostages in Syria. On Monday, sources familiar with the matter said Qatar, whose diplomacy helped free Curtis, is working to help free four other Americans held hostage in Syria by various armed groups.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS

 
 
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