Malik Faisal Akram Identified as Colleyville Synagogue Suspect
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Authorities Identify the Suspect Behind Texas Synagogue Hostage Situation

 

The man behind the hostage situation at a Texas synagogue has been identified, authorities say. He is British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, 44, the FBI announced on Sunday. Officials previously said he died, but they did not say how.

Officials got information Saturday morning about a gunman entering the Congregation Beth Israel while they were having services livestreamed to Zoom and Facebook, Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller told reporters before federal officials named Akram.

The person took four people hostage, authorities said. Facebook stream audio reportedly showed the suspect demanding the release of neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted of trying to kill and assault U.S. officers and employees in Afghanistan years ago.

“Just last month in New York City, Aafia Siddiqui, a U.S.-trained Pakistani physicist was convicted of attempted murder and armed assault,” then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told a House committee in 2010. “She had shown a clear intent to kill Americans and, at the time of her arrest, possessed documents that referred to ‘a mass casualty attack’ and listed specific locations, including the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.”

Family said she was falsely accused, according to The Star-Telegram. An attorney said Pakistani police kidnapped her in 2003, and both Pakistani and American forces had her in custody for five years, torturing her physically and psychologically at the Bagram Detention Center north of the Afghanistan capital of Kabul.  Authorities said she was actually on the run during that time.

Akram reportedly described himself as Siddiqui’s “brother,” but it is unclear if he meant this in a figurative or literal way. An attorney for Siddiqui’s actual brother denied the hostage taker was her brother.

A hostage rescue team saved the three remaining hostages on Saturday around 9 p.m., Miller said. Akram is dead. Miller and FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno of the Dallas field office declined to say how he died and why. DeSarno told reporters in the press conference overnight that there is going to be an independent investigation on the death.

He declined to comment specifically about the statements said on the synagogue livestream, only telling reporters that they are investigating the motive. He said there is currently no indication of ongoing threat. Investigation will have international scope, reaching Tel Aviv and London, he said.

All four hostages are safe and sound.  Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker is believed to be one of the hostages. From Facebook on Sunday morning:

I am thankful and filled with appreciation for
All of the vigils and prayers and love and support,
All of the law enforcement and first responders who cared for us,
All of the security training that helped save us.

I am grateful for my family.
I am grateful for the CBI Community, the Jewish Community, the Human Community.
I am grateful that we made it out.
I am grateful to be alive.

[Screenshot via CNN]

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