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January 18, 2022

Gunman Dead After Hostage Situation at Texas Synagogue

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY…
1943: Soviets announce they have broken the long Siege of Leningrad by Nazi Germany by opening a narrow land corridor, though the siege would not be fully lifted until a year later

Note: this is a developing story based on the information available at the time. You can view an update here.

An armed British national traveled to Texas and took four people hostage at a synagogue over the weekend in what President Joe Biden declared “an act of terror.”

Malik Faisal Akram, 44, was killed by authorities following a tense 11-hour standoff at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville. All four hostages were unharmed.

“During the negotiations with law enforcement, the hostage taker, Malik Faisal Akram, spoke repeatedly about a convicted terrorist who is serving an 86-year prison sentence in the United States on terrorism charges,” the FBI said. “This is a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted, and is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force.”

Akram entered the synagogue during its Shabbat service, which was live-streamed on Facebook until the feed cut off at about 2 p.m. local time. Before the video feed ended, Akram could be heard demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman who’s currently serving an 86-year sentence in a Texas federal prison for trying to kill U.S. military officers while in custody in Afghanistan.

British foreign secretary, Liz Truss, said the U.K. government condemned “this act of terrorism and antisemitism.”

Texas resident Victoria Francis told the AP she watched about an hour of the stream before it ended. She said she heard the man rant against America and claim he had a bomb.

“He was just all over the map. He was pretty irritated, and the more irritated he got, he’d make more threats, like ‘I’m the guy with the bomb. If you make a mistake, this is all on you.’ And he’d laugh at that,” Francis said. “He was clearly in extreme distress.”

As the situation unfolded, the FBI asked British police to contact Akram’s family to talk him into surrendering. His family spoke to him as he held hostages, but they couldn’t convince him.

In a statement to Sky News, Akram’s brother Gulbar asked how his brother had been able to get into the U.S., given his criminal history.

“He’s known to police. Got a criminal record. How was he allowed to get a visa and acquire a gun?” Gulbar said.

When reporters asked Biden how Akram procured weapons, he said: “the assertion was he got the weapons on the street. He purchased them when he landed.”

“I don’t think there is sufficient information to know about why he targeted that synagogue or why he insisted on the release of someone who’s been in prison for over 10 years” or “why he was using antisemitic and anti-Israeli comments,” Biden said on Sunday. “We just don’t have enough facts.”

During the live stream, Akram indicated he targeted a synagogue while trying to free Siddiqui because he believed the U.S. “only cares about Jewish lives.”

According to The Guardian: “Investigators in the U.K. believe that Akram had no connection to Texas and travelled there earlier this month.”

Meanwhile, police in the U.K. arrested two teenagers allegedly connected to the incident.

“Two teenagers were detained in South Manchester this evening,” the Greater Manchester Police said in a statement. “They remain in custody for questioning.”

According to The Guardian, the incident prompted statements of solidarity from the Jewish community.

“Today we have felt the all too familiar sinking in our hearts, the outrage and horror of witnessing yet another antisemitic attack on a synagogue on Shabbat,” said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, in a statement.

“We worry that in the days ahead there will be those who try to use our community’s pain and trauma to fuel division or incite violence against other communities – we will not let them. We will reject any attempt, rooted in anti-Muslim bigotry, to hold an entire community responsible for the actions of one individual.”

The incident renewed fears of antisemitic attacks and sentiments in the U.S. According to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) most recent Audit of Antisemitic Incidents in the country, there were more than 2,100 acts of assault, vandalism, and harassment in 2021 — a 12% increase from the previous year.

“With threats against synagogues and other Jewish institutions arguably at an all-time high, it is imperative that the federal government provides appropriate levels of funding to mitigate the threat,” ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said.


Source:

Texas officials say all hostages safe, out of Colleyville synagogue; hostage-taker dead

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3 comments on Gunman Dead After Hostage Situation at Texas Synagogue

  1. Nancy Williams says:

    How does someone…known to police…with a criminal record…even get a visa or be granted the right to set foot on American soil?

    Protect your borders or you will have no country to protect!!

    1. B James says:

      Time for Biden to step up and finish building the wall that his predecessor began, and increase the vetting procedures for those that do cross any US Border anywhere. It would seem that in THIS case, a facial recognition program could well be put to use.

  2. JOHN R FLEMING says:

    Why identify him as a “UK Subject” He is a friggin Muslim terrorist. Did you see his face?Should have set off alarrn bells all over. I would have kicked him off my bird had I been the pilot- let me guess- he had no luggage.

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