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HomeWorldTexas: FBI identifies synagogue hostage-taker as British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, had demanded release...

Texas: FBI identifies synagogue hostage-taker as British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, had demanded release of ‘Lady Al Qaeda’ Aafia Siddiqui

Earlier, Akram was heard asking to speak to her "sister", which led to speculations he could be Muhammad Siddiqui, Aafia's brother. However, Aafia's lawyer and her actual brother refuted the claims.

On January 16 (local time), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) identified Synagogue hostage-taker as 44-year-old British citizen Malik Faisal Akram. As per reports, he had come to the US two weeks ago. Akram’s brother alleged he was suffering from mental health issues.

He had demanded the release of scientist-turned terrorist of Pakistani origin, Aafia Siddiqui, aka lady al-Qaeda who is serving an 87-year sentence in prison near the Synagogue where the incident took place. Earlier, Akram was heard asking to speak to her “sister”, which led to speculations he could be Muhammad Siddiqui, Aafia’s brother. However, Aafia’s lawyer and her actual brother refuted the claims.

FBI’s statement on Texas hostage crisis

FBI Dallas issued a statement in the matter revealing the hostage-taker’s identity. In the statement, they said, “Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno of the FBI Dallas Field Office confirmed today the identity of the Colley, Texas hostage-taker as British Citizen, Malik Faisal Akram, 44.” The statement further added that the Evidence Response Team (ERT) would continue to process evidence at the Synagogue.

It further said preliminary evidence did not indicate the involvement of any other person. “The FBI’s North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force (NTJUF), which includes member agencies from across the region, will continue to follow investigative leads. An FBI Shooting Incident Review Team (SIRT) will conduct a thorough, factual, and objective investigation of the events,” it added.

Akram’s ‘devastated’ brother Gulbar Akram shared a message on social media in which he revealed he had been working with the FBI and ‘liaising’ with his sibling throughout the stand-off. He apologised and blamed ‘mental health issues’ for Malik’s actions.

Two teenagers detained in Manchester

Greater Manchester Police said in a statement they had detained two teenagers from South Manchester in connection to the hostage incident.

They said, “As a part of the ongoing investigation into the attack that took place at a Synagogue in Texas on January 15 2022, Officers from Counter Terror Policing North West have made two arrests in relation to the incident. Two teenagers were detained in South Manchester this evening. They remain in custody for questioning.” The identity of the detained teenagers was not revealed.

Akram’s brother blamed ‘mental health issues’ for the incident

Akram’s brother Gulbar said in an online post that his family was devastated by the incident. He said, “We would like to say that we as a family do not condone any of his actions and would like to sincerely apologise wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident.”

He said though his brother was suffering from mental health issues, he was confident Akram would not harm the hostages. “There was nothing we could have said to him or done that would have convinced him to surrender. Obviously, our priority will be to get him back to the UK for his funeral prayers, although we have been warned it could take weeks.”

He also questioned how his brother was allowed to enter the US despite having a criminal record.

Blackburn Muslim Community ‘prayed’ for ‘highest rank of paradise’ for Akram

After learning about the identity of the hostage-taker, Blackburn Muslim Community issued a statement on its Facebook page in which they prayed for the “highest rank of paradise” for Akram. In the now-deleted post, they said, “Faisal Akram has sadly departed from this temporary world and returned to his creator. He was son of Mohammad Malik Akram and the brother of Gulbar, Malik, Nasar, Yassar and Late Gulzameer Akram.”

It further added, “May the almighty forgive all his sins and bless him with the highest ranks of Paradise.”

President Biden called the incident ‘an act of terror’

While responding to the incident, US President Joe Biden called it “an act of terror”. While talking to the reporters in Philadelphia, he said, “This was an act of terror. This was an act of terror. And it not only was related to someone who had been arrested, but I might also add, 15 years ago and been in jail for ten years — the idea that it was something new.”

He further added he talked to the Attorney General and told him that he would want to tell the places of worship that such incidents would not be tolerated. “We have this capacity to deal with the assaults on particularly the anti-Semitism that has grown up,” he said.

When asked why the hostage-taker targeted the specific Synagogue, US President said, “Well, no, I don’t. I don’t think there is sufficient information to know about why he targeted that Synagogue or why he insisted on the release of someone who’s been in prison for over ten years, why he was engaged — why he was using anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli comments. We just don’t have enough facts.”

He further said the weapons Akram used in the hostage incident were bought after entering the US. He said, “He purchased them when he landed, and it turns out there apparently were no bombs that we know of. Apparently, he spent the first night in a homeless shelter. I don’t have all the details yet, so I’m reluctant to go into much more detail.”

Rabbi’s statement

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was one of the hostages, issued a statement via a spokesperson. He said, “Over the years, my congregation and I have participated in multiple security courses from the Colleyville Police Department, the FBI, the Anti-Defamation League, and Secure Community Network. We are alive today because of that education. I encourage all Jewish congregations, religious groups, schools, and others to participate in active-shooter and security courses.”

He further added, “In the last hour of our hostage crisis, the gunman became increasingly belligerent and threatening,” Cytron-Walker added. “Without the instruction we received, we would not have been prepared to act and flee when the situation presented itself.”

Cytron-Walker said there was no question it was a traumatic experience. He thanked everyone for the love, prayers and support. “We are grateful for the outcome. We are resilient, and we will recover,” he added.

In a Facebook post, Cytron-Walker said he was grateful to be alive.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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