Monday May 23, 2022

Briton identified as suspected hostage taker at Texas synagogue

Published : 17 Jan 2022, 01:45

  DF News Desk

Photo shows Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller speaking about the hostage rescue at the press briefing in Colleyville, a suburban city of Fort Worth in Texas, the United States, Jan. 15, 2022. Photo: Xinhua by Dan Tian.

A British citizen has been identified as the suspect who held four hostages inside a synagogue on Saturday at Colleyville in the U.S. state of Texas and died there after hours-long standoff, multiple local media outlets reported on Sunday, citing federal law enforcement sources, according to Xinhua.

All four hostages, including a rabbi, made it out alive and safe.

The FBI identified the suspect as Malik Faisal Akram, 44, who entered the United States two weeks ago via New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to media reports.

Fox News Digital reported that British government's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office confirmed the death of a British man in Texas on Sunday.

No explosive material has been found on the suspect and the scene, said a CBS News report. Multiple media outlets reported earlier that the suspect claimed to have set bombs in several locations inside the synagogue.

The authorities are currently assessing Akram's mental health and investigating whether he appeared on any terrorist screening database or watchlist, said the report.

U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters on Sunday that authorities "just don't have enough facts" to speculate the motive of the hostage taker, calling the standoff "an act of terror."

"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, why he was engaged - why he was using anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli comments," Biden told reporters.

The hostage taker reportedly required the release of Aafia Siddiqui, who was sentenced in 2010 to 86 years in prison for the attempted murder and assault of U.S. officers in Afghanistan, and is incarcerated in the federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas.

"Immediate crisis is over. Yet the fear of rising antisemitism remains," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tweeted on Sunday.

However, the FBI said on Saturday night it believed the hostage taker was "singularly focused on one issue, and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community."

There was no indication of "any kind of ongoing threat," said FBI Dallas special agent in charge Matthew DeSarno at a news briefing, noting the investigation would have "global reach."

"I am grateful to be alive," Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, one of the hostages held for about 11 hours in the synagogue, said on Facebook on Sunday.