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Qaeda figure slams Libya for softening line on nurses case

Thursday, February 1, 2007; 4:01 PM

DUBAI (Reuters) - A top al Qaeda militant labeled Libya's leadership "hateful infidels" over signs it may review the case of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor sentenced to death, according to a Web video posted on Thursday.

"(Libya wants) to cajole the West and please its masters ... by dropping the case of this heinous crime," Abu Yahya al-Libi, believed to be an al Qaeda militant from Libya who escaped from a U.S. jail in Afghanistan in 2005, said in the video.

"It is time for people to recognize these hateful infidels for what they are ... and not be fooled by their slogans," said Libi, denouncing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as a "tyrant."

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said on Tuesday he had appealed to Gaddafi to spare the lives of the six health workers sentenced to death for infecting hundreds of children with HIV, and that Gaddafi had said he would think about the matter.

The death sentences were condemned by Western governments and rights groups. Some Western medical experts say negligence and poor hospital hygiene were responsible for the outbreak.

Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam earlier told a newspaper Libya would not execute the six and that a solution would be found.

The video, the latest of a series featuring Libi, showed the bearded militant wearing camouflage fatigues and sitting next to an assault rifle. It was produced by al Qaeda's media arm al-Sahab and posted on Web sites often used by Islamists.

Libi blasted Western countries for opposing the verdict.

"The case of the AIDS children is not the first in which the West uses double standards ... Whenever the victim is a Muslim, this has been the most distinctive feature of their policies," said Libi, whose real name is believed to be Mohammad Hassan.

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