Ex-Hostage: Al Qaeda Kidnapper 'Very Cold'

Terrorist known as Mr. Marlboro has earned tens of millions through kidnapping.
3:00 | 01/17/13

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Transcript for Ex-Hostage: Al Qaeda Kidnapper 'Very Cold'
Let's get right away to what u.S. Officials are calling an act of terror against american workers in a north african country of algeria. Dozens of hostages, including u.S. Citizens, were captured by islamist militants, seizing a natural gas facility on wednesday. Abc's brian ross has been tracking all the latest on this. Good morning to you, brian. Reporter: Good morning, elizabeth. Overnight, algerian troops surrounded the compound, where a reported seven american hostages are being held, along with french, british, norwegian and japanese workers. All captured by terrorists, claiming they are part of al qaeda. There is growing concern this morning about the fate of the hostages being held in the middle of the sahara dese, at a residential compound for workers at a natural gas facility, partly owned by bp. Intelligence officials say, the situation is tense. It is a very serious matter when americans taken hostage, along with others. Reporter: The terror strike came without warning wednesday morning, when an estimated 20 gunmen, first attacked a bus carrying workers, escorted by two cars carrying security teams. At least one worker was killed. Then, the terrorists moved on to the compound, where they are holed up with the american and other western hostages. Intelligence officials believe this is the mast ermind of the attack, mokhtar belmokhtar, who also runs an organized crime network that reportedly has made tens of millions of dollars from ransome from kidnaps and smuggling of diamonds, guns and cigarettes. His nickname is mr. Marlboro. He's very cold. Very business-like. Reporter: Canadian robert fowler, a u.N. Diplomat, was held for four months until freed in 2009 opini. He says he is a man to be feared. I was afraid for my life all the time. I was afraid for my life when i woke up in the morning and when I went to sleep at night. He's a very serious player. Reporter: Intelligence officials say the situation would be easier if all the terrorists wanted is money. But mokhtar's group says it wants the french government to stop its group in africa. With the element of surprise gone, a raid to free the hostages by the u.S. Or algeria would be very difficult.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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