The good news is in the title. Multiple reports this afternoon indicate that Curtis was released by Jabhat al-Nusrah (who some of you probably already know as the al-Nusra Front) and is apparently out of enemy hands and presumably on the way home.
An American held hostage for two years by the Jabhat al-Nusrah terrorist group has been released, Secretary of State John Kerry said today in a statement.
Peter Theo Curtis, an American with family ties to Massachusetts, was released, Kerry said, without offering details of how it was arranged.
“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-Nusrah,” Kerry said.
“For two years, this young American has been separated from his family,” he said. “Finally he is returning home.”
Details are sparse thus far, but the timing is certainly interesting. Kerry isn’t exactly taking credit for it, so how and why this happened may or may not come out as the story unfolds. The first thing to know is that al-Nusra isn’t ISIL (or ISIS or whatever you like this week). In fact, some earlier reports note that the two groups are actually in competition on the recruiting front when it comes to drafting promising young terrorists. So why would they release Curtis just now, only days after the execution of another high profile captive? A few possible reasons, just as in initial thought exercise:
We just sprang another dozen guys from Gitmo? (Nah.)
Could it be that they were watching the weekend talk shows and were frightened by Lindsey Graham’s bravado? (Well, maybe not.)
Seeing how we weren’t negotiating with their competition, was it a gesture to show us how they weren’t as bad as ISIS, so we should focus on them and take the heat off of al-Nusra?
Or were there some background negotiations going on – not necessarily with our government – which were heading this way all along and the timing is just a coincidence? Since the reports are saying that Qatar was once again involved in inking the deal, that really sounds like the most likely scenario.
No matter the reason, it’s still good news. Let’s prepare to welcome Mr. Curtis home.