British national identified as the hostage-taker at Texas synagogue

4 months ago
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A instrumentality enforcement serviceman walks crossed an intersection adjacent the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue connected January 15, 2022 successful Colleyville, Texas.

Brandon Bell | Getty Images

Authorities connected Sunday identified a 44-year-old British nationalist arsenic the antheral who took 4 radical hostage astatine a Texas synagogue for 10 hours earlier an FBI SWAT squad stormed the building, ending a tense standoff that President Joe Biden called "an enactment of terror."

Malik Faisal Akram was changeable and killed aft the past of the hostages got retired astatine astir 9 p.m. Saturday astatine Congregation Beth Israel adjacent Fort Worth. In a statement, the FBI said determination was nary denotation that anyone other was involved, but it didn't supply a imaginable motive.

Akram could beryllium heard ranting connected a Facebook livestream of the services and demanding the merchandise of a Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted of trying to termination U.S. Army officers successful Afghanistan. The FBI and constabulary spokeswomen declined to reply questions Saturday nighttime astir who changeable Akram erstwhile the standoff ended.

Video from Dallas TV presumption WFAA showed radical moving retired a doorway of the synagogue, and past a antheral holding a weapon opening the aforesaid doorway conscionable seconds aboriginal earlier helium turned astir and closed it. Moments later, respective rounds of gunfire could beryllium heard, followed by the dependable of an explosion.

"Rest assured, we are focused," Biden said during a sojourn to a nutrient pantry successful Philadelphia connected Sunday morning. "The lawyer wide is focused and making definite that we woody with these kinds of acts."

FBI Special Agent successful Charge Matt DeSarno said the hostage-taker was specifically focused connected an contented not straight connected to the Jewish community, and determination was nary contiguous denotation that the antheral was portion of immoderate broader plan. But DeSarno said the agency's probe "will person planetary reach."

It wasn't wide wherefore Akram chose the synagogue.

Google Earth presumption of Beth Israel temple, Colleyville, Texas

Google Earth

Law enforcement officials who were not authorized to sermon the ongoing probe and who spoke to The Associated Press connected the information of anonymity earlier said the hostage-taker demanded the merchandise of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to al-Qaida who is successful a national situation successful Texas. He besides said helium wanted to beryllium capable to talk with her, according to the officials, 1 of whom confirmed that the hostage-taker was a British national.

A rabbi successful New York City received a telephone from the rabbi believed to beryllium held hostage successful the synagogue to request Siddiqui's release, a instrumentality enforcement authoritative said. The New York rabbi past called 911.

Police were archetypal called to the synagogue astir 11 a.m. and radical were evacuated from the surrounding vicinity soon aft that, FBI Dallas spokeswoman Katie Chaumont said.

Saturday's services were being livestreamed connected the synagogue's Facebook leafage for a time. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that an aggravated antheral could beryllium heard ranting and talking astir religion astatine times during the livestream, which didn't amusement what was happening wrong the synagogue.

Shortly earlier 2 p.m., the antheral said, "You got to bash something. I don't privation to spot this feline dead." Moments later, the provender chopped out. A spokesperson for Meta Platforms Inc., the firm successor to Facebook Inc., aboriginal confirmed that Facebook had removed the video.

Multiple radical heard the hostage-taker notation to Siddiqui arsenic his "sister" connected the livestream. But John Floyd, committee seat for the Houston section of the Council connected American-Islamic Relations, — the nation's largest Muslim advocacy radical — said Siddiqui's brother, Mohammad Siddiqui, was not involved.

"This assailant has thing to bash with Dr. Aafia, her family, oregon the planetary run to get justness for Dr. Aafia. We privation the assailant to cognize that his actions are wicked and straight undermine those of america who are seeking justness for Dr. Aafia," said Floyd, who besides is ineligible counsel for Mohammad Siddiqui. "We person confirmed that the household subordinate being wrongly accused of this heinous enactment is not adjacent the DFW Metro area."

Texas nonmigratory Victoria Francis told the AP that she watched astir an hr of the livestream earlier it chopped out. She said she heard the antheral rant against America and assertion helium had a bomb.

"He was conscionable each implicit the map. He was beauteous irritated and the much irritated helium got, he'd marque much threats, similar 'I'm the feline with the bomb. If you marque a mistake, this is each connected you.' And he'd laughter astatine that," she said. "He was intelligibly successful utmost distress."

Francis, who grew up adjacent Colleyville, tuned successful aft she work astir the hostage situation. She said it sounded similar the antheral was talking to the constabulary section connected the phone, with the rabbi and different idiosyncratic trying to assistance with the negotiations.

Colleyville, a assemblage of astir 26,000 people, is astir 15 miles (23 kilometers) northeast of Fort Worth. The synagogue is nestled among ample houses successful a leafy residential vicinity that includes respective churches, a mediate and simple schoolhouse and a equine farm.

Congregation Beth Israel is led by Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who has been determination since 2006 arsenic the synagogue's archetypal full-time rabbi. He has worked to bring a consciousness of spirituality, compassion and learning to the community, according to his biography connected the temple's website, and helium loves welcoming everyone, including LGBT people, into the congregation.

In a Sunday greeting station connected what appears to beryllium Cytron-Walker's Facebook page, the rabbi thanked instrumentality enforcement and first-responders, and information grooming "that helped prevention us."

"I americium grateful for my family. I americium grateful for the CBI Community, the Jewish Community, the Human Community. I americium grateful we made it out. I americium grateful to beryllium alive," helium wrote.

Anna Salton Eisen, a laminitis and erstwhile president of the synagogue, said the congregation has astir 140 members and that Cytron-Walker has worked hard to physique interfaith relationships successful the community, including doing pulpit swaps and participating successful a assemblage bid walk. She described Saturday's events arsenic "surreal."

"This is dissimilar thing we've ever experienced. You know, it's a tiny municipality and it's a tiny congregation," Eisen said arsenic the hostage concern was ongoing. "No substance however it turns out, it's hard to fathom however we volition each beryllium changed by this, due to the fact that surely we volition be."

President Joe Biden issued a connection thanking instrumentality enforcement aft the hostage concern ended.

"There is much we volition larn successful the days up astir the motivations of the hostage taker. But fto maine beryllium wide to anyone who intends to dispersed hate—we volition basal against anti-Semitism and against the emergence of extremism successful this country," Biden said.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said connected Twitter that helium had been monitoring the concern closely. "This lawsuit is simply a stark reminder that antisemitism is inactive live and we indispensable proceed to combat it worldwide," helium wrote. He said helium was "relieved and thankful" that the hostages were rescued.

The standoff prompted accrued information successful different places, including New York City, wherever constabulary said that they accrued their beingness "at cardinal Jewish institutions" retired of an abundance of caution.

Aafia Siddiqui earned precocious degrees from Brandeis University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology earlier she was sentenced successful 2010 to 86 years successful situation connected charges that she assaulted and changeable astatine U.S. Army officers aft being detained successful Afghanistan 2 years earlier. The punishment sparked outrage successful Pakistan among governmental leaders and her supporters, who viewed her arsenic victimized by the American transgression justness system.

In the years since, Pakistani officials person expressed involvement publically successful immoderate benignant of woody oregon swap that could effect successful her merchandise from U.S. custody, and her lawsuit has continued to gully attraction from supporters. In 2018, for instance, an Ohio antheral who prosecutors accidental planned to alert to Texas and onslaught the situation wherever Siddiqui is being held successful an effort to escaped her was sentenced to 22 years successful prison.