American officials say they didn't pay a penny to secure the release of kidnapped journalist Peter Theo Curtis—and they asked Qatar not to offer money to the Nusra Front militants holding him. A White House spokesman says the US government put the Curtis family in touch with the Qataris, who were able to secure his freedom through their contacts with the militants, reports the New York Times, which notes that Qatar has paid millions to free other hostages. "The United States government certainly did not ask the Qataris to pay a ransom," the White House spokesman says. "In fact, we asked the Qataris, consistent with our long-standing policy, to not pay a ransom for Mr. Curtis."
But if you see a group like the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front "releasing hostages, they're getting something out of it," a Middle East analyst tells the Telegraph, speculating that Qatar may have offered non-monetary favors in return for Curtis' release. "Qatar has said that they had him released on a humanitarian basis without the payment of any ransom," the journalist's father tells the AP. "I don't know any more than that." The father praised the governments that helped secure his son's freedom, saying the 22 months he had been in captivity had been like "hunting for bats in a dark, black cave." (By some estimates, ransoms paid by European governments account for half of al-Qaeda's income.)