American Journalist Peter Theo Curtis Released By Hostage Takers

An American Journalist who has been held hostage by al-Qaeda sympathizers in Syria has been released to the United Nations, ABC News reports.

Word that American journalist Peter Theo Curtis, who was kidnapped two years ago, was released comes not long after word of the beheading of American journalist James Foley in Iraq.

More from ABC:

“Curtis was handed over to United Nations peacekeepers in Al Rafid village in the Golan Heights Sunday evening, local time, according to the U.N. Curtis received a medical check-up before he was handed over to U.S. officials.

“Curtis’ family had been working with the State Department over the past two years to bring Curtis home.

“‘My heart is full at the extraordinary, dedicated, incredible people, too many to name individually, who have become my friends and have tirelessly helped us over these many months,’ said Theo’s mother, Nancy Curtis. ‘Please know that we will be eternally grateful.'”

Al Jazeera America reported that videos of Curtis in captivity have appeared online in recent weeks and months, with one of the videos appearing to show the American journalist released was in good health.

“But in another video obtained by The New York Times, Curtis is seen with both hands bound, begging for his life while a man armed with an automatic weapon stands next to him, the newspaper said. ‘I have three days left. Three days — please do something,’ Curtis begged, according to The Times.

“The New York Times said that Curtis had reportedly been imprisoned in the same cell with Matthew Schrier, an American photojournalist who escaped in June 2013. Schrier told The New York Times that his captors starved and tortured him, beating the soles of his feet until he could not longer walk.”

Schrier eventually fled to safety, though Curtis’ attempt to flee with him was unsuccessful, Al Jazeera reported.

Curtis is a Muslim convert, though it was reported by Al Jazeera that he converted simply to gain access to sources and it even lead to the publication of two books by the journalist. The American journalist released from captivity holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature.

“He told GlobalPost that he began studying the Quran and lived in the same dorm at the Masjid Shari Qain mosque in Sanaa as Carlos Bledsoe, the American-born covert to Islam known as Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad who in 2009 went on to kill a soldier at an Arkansas military recruiting center.

“He even traveled to the countryside and spent five weeks at Dar al Hadith, the mosque where American John Walker Lindh, a member of the Taliban, is alleged to have studied.”

[Image via Al Jazeera America]