FBI names Texas hostage-taker as British citizen

3 months ago 32

COLLEYVILLE, Texas: The man who died after holding four people hostage at a Texas synagogue in what President Joe Biden called an "act of terror" was identified by the FBI on Sunday (Jan 16) as a 44-year-old British citizen named Malik Faisal Akram.

The four hostages - including a respected local rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker - were all freed unharmed on Saturday night, prompting relief in the United States, where the Jewish community and Biden renewed calls to fight anti-Semitism.

"There is no question that this was a traumatic experience," Cytron-Walker said in a statement on Sunday.

"We are resilient and we will recover," he added.

There was "no indication" that anyone else was involved in the attack on the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in the small Texas town of Colleyville, the FBI's field office in Dallas said in a statement.

A man identifying himself as Akram's brother Gulbar said in a post to a local Muslim community Facebook page in Blackburn, in north-west England - where British police said Akram was from - that the suspect had suffered from mental health problems.

"We would like to say that we as a family do not condone any of his actions and would like to sincerely apologize wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident," Gulbar said.

He added that he had been in touch with law enforcement at the scene in Texas and that his family hoped to get Akram's body back to Britain for a funeral.

Biden declined to speculate on the motive but appeared to confirm reports that the hostage-taker was seeking the release of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist known as "Lady Al-Qaeda."

"This was an act of terror" committed by an assailant who apparently "insisted on the release of someone who's been in prison for over 10 years," Biden told reporters during a visit to a hunger relief organization in Philadelphia.

Britain's foreign minister Liz Truss likewise Sunday condemned the hostage-taking as an "act of terrorism and anti-Semitism".

Siddiqui, the first woman to be suspected by the United States of links to Al-Qaeda and a cause celebre in Pakistan and in South Asian jihadist circles, was detained in Afghanistan in 2008.

Two years later she was sentenced by a New York court to 86 years in prison for the attempted murder of US officers in Afghanistan.

She is currently being held at a prison in Fort Worth, Texas ...

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