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(USA TODAY) Journalist Peter Theo Curtis, held captive in Syria for two years, said Wednesday he was "overwhelmed with emotion" upon his return to Boston.

Curtis, who was freed Sunday, spoke briefly outside his mother's Cambridge home.

"I have learned, bit by bit, that there have been literally hundreds of people, brave determined and big-hearted people all over the world, working for my release," he said. "I had no idea that so much effort was being expended on my behalf."

Curtis, 45, said he was also amazed at the warm welcome he has received.

"Total strangers have been coming up to me and saying hey, we are just glad you are home, welcome home, glad you are back, glad you are safe," he said. "I suddenly remember how good the American people are and what kindness they have in their hearts.

"To all those people I say a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart."

After two years of captivity in Syria, American writer Peter Theo Curtis thanked all the 'brave, determined and big-hearted people' who helped coordinate his release. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

An Islamist group affiliated with al-Qaeda captured Curtis in 2012. He had written for the New Republic, and the year before his capture, he wrote a book entitled, "Undercover Muslim: A Journey into Yemen."

U.S. and Qatar officials had been working for his release. Militants turned him over to United Nations representatives in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights section of Syria.

Attention to his case had been heightened by last week's execution on video of U.S. journalist James Foley, by the terrorist group Islamic State.

Steven Joel Sotloff, an American photojournalist, is a hostage of the terrorist group and was threatened with death in the same video that portrayed Foley's killing.

President Obama was relieved by Curtis' release when he was briefed Sunday, said White House spokesman Eric Schultz.

"But we continue to hold in our thoughts and prayers the Americans who remain in captivity in Syria, and we will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to see that the remaining American hostages are freed," Schultz said.

American journalist Peter Theo Curtis is back on U.S. soil after being held in Syria for 22 months. It comes at the time we learn of the death of another American, Douglas McCain, whom authorities say traveled to the country to join terrorists.

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