National Security

FBI special agent calls Texas hostage situation ‘hate crime and an act of terrorism’

An FBI special agent on Friday denounced the Texas synagogue hostage situation, calling it a “hate crime and an act of terrorism.”

“This was both a hate crime and an act of terrorism,” Matt DeSarno, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas field office, said during a news briefing, The Associated Press reported.

DeSarno said that the incident “was committed by a terrorist espousing an anti-Semitic worldview” and had “intentionally targeted” a place of faith, the news wire noted. 

Last week, four people were safely freed from Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, after the suspect, British national Malik Faisal Akram, held them hostage, demanding for the release of Pakistani neurologist Aafia Siddiqui. Akram’s death was confirmed by authorities.  

The AP noted that the comments followed criticism DeSarno received after he said in a press conference earlier this month that the issue Akram was focused on was not specifically connected to the Jewish community.

DeSarno’s comments come after remarks made by FBI Director Christopher Wray who said during a webinar on Thursday that the incident was “an act of terrorism targeting the Jewish community.”

“We recognize that the Jewish community in particular has suffered violence and faces very real threats from really across the hate spectrum,” Wray noted.

On Friday, Akram’s death was determined a homicide by the Tarrant County Medical examiner, saying he suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died at 9:22 p.m.

The FBI special agent in charge said during the press conference that there was “a primary gap” in their investigation about to how the British national acquired his gun. 

While Akram’s identity was previously known to British authorities, DeSarno said that the U.S. intelligence community and FBI did not have knowledge of him, according to AP. 

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