is finally home.
The American writer flew Tuesday from Tel Aviv,
Israel, to the United States — stopping first in
Newark, New Jersey, before reuniting with his
mother in Boston, his family said in a news release.
“I have been so touched and moved, beyond all
words, by the people who have come up to me today
— strangers on the airplane, the flight attendants
and, most of all, my family to say welcome home,”
The reunion meant an end to a dramatic ordeal for
Curtis, who was held by Islamist rebels in Syria.
His mother, Nancy, said she was “overwhelmed with
relief” now that he was back in the United States.
But, given the recent beheading of American
journalist James Foley — who was also being by
militants in Syria — she couldn’t bring herself to
“I don’t think anybody’s in the mood of celebration.
You know, we’re relieved,” Curtis earlier told CNN
outside her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “
But after the events of the last week and knowing those
other children of my friends are in danger, you know,
I have very conflicted emotions.
I’ve come to know the other families as well, and these kids have a lot in common.”
In fact, the first person Curtis contacted after
confirming that her son had been released was
Foley’s mother, Diane, she told “ABC World News
Peter Theo Curtis, 45, is believed to have been
captured in October 2012 and held by al-Nusra Front,
a Syrian rebel group with ties to al Qaeda.
“You learn to get over the panic,” Nancy Curtis told
CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “You learn to just take each
hour as it comes.”
Matt Wormser, a Vermont resident and Peter Theo
Curtis’ former high school roommate, said it was a
“very bittersweet time” for friends and relatives of the
freed hostage, given Foley’s death.
“It’s been tremendously difficult for Nancy,” he said.
The United Nations said Peter Theo Curtis was
handed over Sunday to U.N. peacekeepers in the
Golan Heights, which is under Israeli government
control, and was given a medical checkup.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said
Curtis was brought to Tel Aviv, to undergo some
“He appears to be in good health,” Harf added.
He briefly called his mother from Tel Aviv on Sunday,
Nancy Curtis said.
“He said, ‘Mom, they’re just being so nice to me. They
put me in this wonderful hotel, and I’m drinking a
beer, and there are women out there,’ ” she recalled.
“Because he’s been in a cellar for two years, and he
hasn’t seen anything, no street life or obviously no
women to be seen, and so he was really excited, and
he was thrilled to be in Tel Aviv and frustrated that he
can’t go out because the place apparently is
surrounded by paparazzi.”
Curtis expressed gratitude to many for helping
secure her son’s release, including the FBI, Secretary
of State John Kerry, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth
Warren, Atlantic Media Chairman and owner David
Bradley, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power and,
especially, the government of Qatar.
“Here’s this extraordinary woman, and she said, ‘We
are going to get Theo free,’ and after we made those
contacts, things moved rapidly,” Curtis said of Alia Al
Thani, Qatar’s permanent representative to the
Qatar recently helped arrange the exchange of Sgt.
Bowe Bergdahl, the only U.S. service member held by
militants in Afghanistan, for five Taliban detainees
held in the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay,
The United States was not involved in negotiations for
Peter Theo Curtis’ release but was aware of private
efforts to secure the release, two U.S. law
enforcement officials said.
Harf, from the State Department, said Qatari officials
“told the family very clearly that they did not pay
ransom” — something the United States government,
as a policy, doesn’t do when dealing with kidnappers
Peter Theo Curtis’ release was announced just five
days after ISIS militants released a video of one of its
militants beheading Foley.
His mother said she thinks about other Americans
being held in Syria.
“They have a good reason to be where they were,”
“The journalists were there to bear witness
and to interpret and to explain to people what’s going
on in the Middle East, and they have the experience
to do that intelligently. And the other two were health
They were there to give meaning to their
lives and make the world a better place. Those are all
CNN obtained two videos that appear to have been
recorded during the late stages of Peter Theo Curtis’
captivity. In one, a gun is pointed at his head, and
Curtis speaks rapidly, as if under duress. He gives his
name and the date and says he is a journalist from
His mother said she could not bring herself to watch.
“You don’t really want to see your son being
mistreated or looking dirty or being unhappy,” she said.