Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Global Impact: Time for Washington to "Fine-Tune" Its Policy Re: Hostage-Taking

According to The Associated Press, US journalist Peter Theo Curtis, 45, returned home to the United States on Tuesday (August 26), two days after being freed by a Syrian extremist group that held him hostage for 22 months, his family said.

Curtis family spokeswoman Betsy Sullivan said in a statement that Curtis arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport Tuesday afternoon after leaving Tel Aviv. By evening he had been reunited with his mother, Nancy Curtis, at Boston Logan International Airport.

"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," Curtis said in the statement.

He also said he was "deeply indebted" to US officials who worked to secure his release.

Curtis, 45, of Boston, was released by al-Nusra Front, a Sunni extremist group.

COMMENT: It is an understatement that the Obama Administration should have been keeping a much closer eye on the continuing expansion of the Islamic State (IS), as suddenly Washington has been thrust into a hostage crisis that began when President Obama exchanged five high-value prisoners in Guantanamo Bay for US Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl.

In the short-term, President Obama will be faced with the political challenge of  whether to sacrifice US hostages or pay millions to avoid a public relations crisis.

What remains unknown is whether the federal government is continuing to pay ransom to IS for US journalists such as Peter Curtis, 45, as it is unlikely that the terror group has suddenly become "good-natured and well-intentioned."

Last week, journalist James Foley, who also was kidnapped in 2012, while covering the Syrian uprising, was killed. IS released a video-clip of his beheading.

The extremists said they killed the Rochester, New Hampshire, resident in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes targeting Islamic State positions in northern Iraq.

Curtis' mother said she was "overwhelmed with relief" that her son had been returned to her. "But this is a sober occasion because of the events of the past week," she said. "My heart goes out to the other families who are suffering."

US freelance journalist, Austin Tice of Houston, disappeared in Syria in August 2012. He is believed to be held by the Syrian government.