FBI identifies British national as Texas synagogue hostage-taker
The FBI has identified the gunman who held hostages at a Texas synagogue for over 10 hours as a British national named Malik Faisal Akram.
According to Matthew DeSarno, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas Field Office, Akram, 44, appears to be the only one who was involved in the hostage-taking on Saturday at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.
All the hostages being held in the synagogue were freed on Saturday evening, with no injuries reported. The gunman, now known to be Akram, was killed though authorities have not disclosed the cause of death.
The hostage situation started around 10:30 a.m., with local police, the FBI, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the North Tarrant Regional SWAT team responding to the scene.
Akram had demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, an American-educated Pakistani neuroscientist who is accused of helping terrorists and is currently imprisoned in Texas for attempting to murder a U.S. soldier.
Marwa Elbially, Siddiqui’s attorney, told The Hill on Saturday that her client condemned the hostage-taking and that she “specifically made clear that she wants no violence in her name.”
Elbially also dismissed suggestions that the gunman was Siddiqui’s brother, which Akram had reportedly claimed during the hostage situation.
“It didn’t even seem remotely plausible,” said the attorney. “I don’t even know why the assumption was made that it was her brother.”
Assistant Chief Constable Dominic Scally of the U.K.’s Counter Terror Policing network confirmed Akram’s identity in a statement on Sunday.
“We can confirm that the suspect, who is deceased, is 44 year old Malik Faisal Akram, originally from the Blackburn area of Lancashire,” he said.
Scally also confirmed that U.K. Counter Terror officers are assisting U.S. authorities in their investigation of the incident.
“Police forces in the region will continue to liaise with their local communities, including the Jewish community, and will put in place any necessary measures to provide reassurance to them,” Scally said.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted, “My thoughts are with the Jewish community and all those affected by the appalling act in Texas. We condemn this act of terrorism and anti-semitism.”
She added, “We stand with US in defending the rights and freedoms of our citizens against those who spread hate.”
Updated at 6:27 p.m.