State Watch

Texas rabbi ‘grateful to be alive’ following hostage taking

The rabbi who was among the four hostages held for over 10 hours in Texas on Saturday said he is “grateful to be alive” after being freed from the gunman who took them captive.

“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,” Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker said in a Facebook post.

“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.”

Cytron-Walker was among the hostages held in the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. The incident began around 10:30 a.m. and was not resolved until more than 10 hours later, with the gunman, Malik Faisal Akram, ultimately being killed.

No injuries were reported among the victims. One hostage was released before the others around 5 p.m.

Akram, a British national, was identified as the gunman on Sunday by the FBI. He demanded the release of imprisoned Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, though Siddiqui denounced the hostage-taking through her attorney. 

President Biden on Sunday called the hostage situation an “act of terror.” Biden said he planned to speak with Cytron-Walker soon.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the national director of the American Defamation League, said in a statement, “This situation is a painful reminder of the fact that synagogues in America continue to be at risk for terrorist attacks as we witness historically high levels of antisemitism across the country and the proliferation of anti-Jewish hate online.”

“We urge continued vigilance in securing synagogues and all Jewish institutions in the wake of this attack,” said Greenblatt.

State Watch