A U.S. journalist kidnapped almost two years ago was freed in Syria Sunday and handed over to a United Nations representative. The release of Peter Theo Curtis was first reported by Al Jazeera, which says Qatar played a key role in obtaining his release mere days after ISIS beheaded James Foley. Reuters also reports that Qatar was instrumental in obtaining the release. “Qatari intelligence agencies were behind the release of the American journalist in Syria. Qatar, like many countries, looks to free those in captive for humanitarian reasons,” the Reuters source said. Curtis was captured along the Syria-Turkey border in October 2012 and was held by the Nusra Front, details the New York Times. The Nusra Front split from ISIS over “ideological and tactical differences,” notes the Times.
Curtis was held alongside photojournalist Matthew Schrier, who was captured and kept prisoner for seven months before he managed to escape in July 2013. Schrier and Curtis actually planned to escape together, but only Schrier managed to make it out of the cell. Curtis’ family had requested news organizations not report his name when they wrote about Schrier’s experiences. “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,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement, according to CNN. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Curtis is safe and outside of Syria, reports the Associated Press.