UK police: Two arrested in connection to Texas synagogue hostage standoff
Two men were arrested in the United Kingdom on Thursday in connection to this weekend’s hostage standoff at a Texas synagogue.
Greater Manchester Police announced in a tweet on Thursday that two men were arrested in Birmingham and Manchester that morning. They are still in custody for questioning, according to authorities.
“Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing North West continue to support US authorities with their investigation into the events in Texas,” the police wrote in a statement.
The arrest comes five days after a man, later identified as British national Malik Faisal Akram, held a rabbi and three congregants hostage for hours at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. All four hostages were eventually freed and the hostage-taker was pronounced dead.
Thursday’s apprehensions came after Greater Manchester Police and Counter Terror Police (CTP) arrested two teenagers on Sunday in connection to the hostage-taking. They were released without being charged on Tuesday, CNN reported, citing the U.K.-based news agency PA Media.
Akram was reportedly known to British security officials, as authorities had investigated him in the second half of 2020, according to the BBC. It was ultimately determined, however, that he was no longer a threat, and he was transferred to a list of people referred to as a “former subject of interest” in 2021.
During the hostage situation Akram had demanded that Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui be released from her imprisonment in Texas, where she is serving time for attempting to murder a U.S. soldier.
The Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating this weekend’s hostage incident, according to the FBI. The bureau said the situation was “a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted, and is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force.”
“We never lose sight of the threat extremists pose to the Jewish community and to other religious, racial, and ethnic groups,” the FBI added.
President Biden on Sunday labeled the hostage incident as an “act of terror.”