Freed American's Mom: Foley's Death Was 'Excruciating'
Curtis' mother says she, Diane Foley have 'been through so much together'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 26, 2014 9:29 AM CDT
In this image made from undated video obtained by the Associated Press, a man believed to be Peter Theo Curtis, a US citizen held hostage by an al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria, delivers a statement.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – When the mother of journalist Peter Theo Curtis learned he'd been freed from captivity by the Nusra Front, her first move was to email James Foley's mom. "Even before I told my daughter, I sat down and sent an email to Diane Foley," Nancy Curtis tells ABC News, as the Boston Globe notes. "We've been through so much together, and I didnt want her to hear it from the media first." She added, "I'm relieved about Theo, but I can't rejoice." She also described her experience from Curtis' kidnapping to his release:

  • She knew something was off after her son headed to Syria and she got an email from him: "Hey," was all it said. After nine months, a photojournalist who'd shared a cell with Curtis managed to escape out a window; Curtis had given him a boost before trying to escape himself, "but there was nobody there to give him a shove," she says.
  • She was sent a video of Curtis pleading to survive, but the FBI "said 'we don't think you want to watch this,' and I said, 'I certainly do not,'" she says. "You don't want to see your child in distress, fearful, looking dirty and disheveled, those are obscene images."

  • When the US called on the militants for proof Curtis was still alive, his mother wracked her brain to think of a question to which they couldn't fake an answer. "I was struggling because you don’t know all these intimate details about your son's life when he's 45," Nancy Curtis says. Finally she asked about the subject of his PhD dissertation—and received the correct answer.
  • The aftermath of Foley's death was "excruciating." "I was getting words of reassurance, but when I didn't hear something, I worried something would go wrong," she says. Finally, this weekend, "I got a call from the FBI agent and she said, ‘Nancy, your son is standing beside me right now, and he's free.'"
  • Meanwhile, the Washington Post offers a further look at the effort to free Curtis. At its center were two men: Atlantic Media Co. chairman and owner David Bradley and an unidentified retired FBI agent. Following a plea from Curtis' cousin, the two traveled to Qatar and met with its intelligence chief. He said his team had found Curtis, and the emir of Qatar approved a dangerous mission to send the country's intelligence services to free him. One strategy involved turning to outside militants for help, but Qatar rejected the plan. "You're dealing with a situation where you have so many shades of bad," the ex-FBI agent says.