Officials: Five Americans Escaped from Algeria Terrorists

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"I was afraid for my life all the time," recalled Fowler, "when I woke up in the morning and when I went to sleep at night. He's a very serious player. " Fowler wrote a book about his ordeal called "A Season in Hell."

Fowler also said Belmokhtar's band was made up of "experienced desert fighters" who hate the West. "I can't tell you the extent to which they hate us," he said. "They believe we are evil incarnate. They believe the West is one great Sodom and Gomorrah."

Intelligence officials say the situation would be much easier if all the terrorists wanted was money.

But Belmokhtar's group says it will not release the hostages in Algeria until France stops its military action against the al Qaeda regime that has taken control of the northern sector of the neighboring country of Mali.

"We bear the Algerian and French government and the countries of the hostages' full responsibility in not speeding up the implementation of our demands [to stop] the aggressive assault on our people in Mali," said the group in its latest statement.

France says it will not negotiate with terrorists.

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Pierre Thomas, Bazi Kanani and Jason Ryan of ABC News contributed to this report.

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